|Tenor saxophonist Branford Marsalis|
Marsalis had brought to the carnage: Pianist Joey Calderazzo, a guy that really thinks ahead - in music light years; a twenty-year old drummer, Justin Faulkner, who has the drive and energy of a booster rocket, packaged with the pounding dexterity of Elvin Jones; and bassist Eric Revis; melodic, innovative, electrifying, modern and forward-thinking; reminiscent of Ellington's Jimmy Blanton, or a Charles "Buster" Williams.
The Quartet came onto the bandstand at 10:30 pm sharp, Marsalis in the lead. You have to be warned about Branford; apart from being a one-man seismic event, he's got a mordant sense of humor, and the unique ability to kill a whole room with one-liners. He likes sports, and is up to date, so your major sports teams had better be doing well when he blows into town, or he is going to have a field day, or night, laying on the 'dozens.' But there were no 'dozens' coming out of Marsalis' horn when he opened the show with the late, great jazz pianist Kenny Kirkland's composition "Steepian Faith." Kirkland had a long-time association with Marsalis' as pianist in his band. He died in 1998 at age 43.
|Pianist Joey Calderazzo|
The major quake hit at about 11:00 PM (PST); it had nothing to do with global warming as most might claim. It was directly centered at 1330 Folsom Street in the city of San Francisco, California. It bent the Richter scale needle into a U-turn; and was an unequivocal consequence of severe rhythmic tectonic shifts accompanying a sustained, brute force, firestorm of sound, as the quartet entered the sacred spiritual domain of John William Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," and paid homage with its second and third movements: "Resolution" and "Pursuance."
The hostile explosion of sounds from tenor saxophone, piano, bass, drums, and the gigantic displacement of wave, upon wave of kinetic energy was like a collision of massive musical galaxies; too intense to avoid; riveting the audience to their chairs; too beautiful to ignore; igniting paroxysms of prolonged applause; and never before seen or felt in this jazz emporium. When it ended, and the shaking stopped, the time was 11:40 PM (PST).
|Bassist Eric Revis|
They followed "Mood Indigo" with another selection of similar mood and tempo, as if to give the audience another opportunity to appreciate the other sensitive side of this high-powered quartet, and to ease them toward the realization that they were coming to the final moments of a beautiful evening of superb jazz. Unfortunately, Marsalis did not announce the name of the piece, and I did not recognize it.
At the conclusion of this tune, the band left the stage signaling the end of show. The crowd gave them another standing ovation and made it known that they wanted an encore. I felt that the quartet had expended so much energy, that they couldn't have much left in the tank. But to my astonishment, they returned. This time Branford Marsalis brought to the stage, a young man that he introduced as Anthony (Diamond), I am not sure of his last name, but he had an alto saxophone slung around his neck. Marsalis disclosed that he had been mentoring Anthony for about 4 years along the lines of playing jazz, jazz history, its icons, and that Anthony was now attending Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, on a full academic scholarship studying Quantum Physics. Marsalis turned to Anthony and casually asked: "So what are you doing now, your Masters?" Anthony replied coolly: "My Doctorate." Right then, someone in the street whistled for a cab, and I'm sure I heard it. I now sat up, like everyone else in the room, and took a real hard look at this taciturn young man called Anthony, who's got a brain that won't quit; looks like a twenty-year old Dexter Gordon, though not quite as tall, and who wants to play his saxophone for a sold out crowd in Yoshi's San Francisco on a Saturday night. I began to wonder what other surprises he had hidden under that cool, unassuming exterior.
I did not have to wait long...
The quartet launched into William Kennedy "Duke" Ellington's 1931 jazz standard "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing"), Marsalis powered up and took the first solo at thoroughbred speed, 'the kid' stood still, head down, sorta diggin' it. Marsalis reined in the fire, and turned the night over to 'young Dexter' with a cursory nod of his head.
|Drummer Justin Faulkner|
Nobody called for an encore after that!
Caveat: If you hear that the Branford Marsalis Quartet is coming to your city, or town, to play jazz...Beware people! Beware! Buy insurance!
If you learn that Joey Calderazzo is making the gig to play piano...Think twice about it! Think twice!
If you read that Eric Revis will be bringing his bass...Don't do it! Make up an excuse! Don't do it!
And if anyone barely mentions, that Justin Faulkner will be in the drummer's chair...Run! Just run! As fast as you can!
Because a maelstrom of murderous, blast furnace, post be-bop torridness, brought on by gratuitous mayhem and uncontrollable chaos, will be unleashed on your senses; and you will never be the same again....
If you think I'm kiddin,' go see them!