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Romare Bearden Revealed
     

Romare Bearden Revealed

by Branford Marsalis
 
On his first release for Marsalis Music, his signature label, Branford Marsalis deployed his quartet to present an homage to the legacy of jazz modernism, with extended investigations of John Coltrane's "Love Supreme" and Sonny Rollins's "Freedom Suite," as well as pithy romps through Ornette Coleman's "Giggin' " and John Lewis's "Concorde." With the relaxed

Overview

On his first release for Marsalis Music, his signature label, Branford Marsalis deployed his quartet to present an homage to the legacy of jazz modernism, with extended investigations of John Coltrane's "Love Supreme" and Sonny Rollins's "Freedom Suite," as well as pithy romps through Ornette Coleman's "Giggin' " and John Lewis's "Concorde." With the relaxed follow-up, Romare Bearden Revealed, Marsalis tips his hat to the Harlem Renaissance with blues-drenched sonic analogs to nine paintings by the seminal midcentury African-American artist, and in so doing, broadens his scope in interesting ways. Marsalis explicitly refers to Bearden’s collagist techniques in the way he juxtaposes different ensembles and configurations for dynamic contrast. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis joins the mix on his own "J Mood," a Milesian blues from the '80s; on drummer Jeff Watts's "Laughin' and Talkin' [With Higg]," a smoking free-form blues in the manner of the Sonny Rollins–Don Cherry quartet of the early '60s; and on a detailed arrangement of Jelly Roll Morton's "Jungle Blues," performed by the remaining Marsalis family musicians (Jason, drums; Delfeayo, trombone; and Ellis, the family patriarch, on piano). Guitarist Doug Wamble, a Marsalis Music artist, augments the quintet on Duke Ellington's "Slappin' Seventh Avenue" and a Sidney Bechet–inflected Branford original entitled "B's Paris Blues," and takes an unaccompanied solo on his own original “Autumn Lamp.” Marsalis conjures Bechet’s ghost on James P. Johnson’s “Carolina Shout" in a romping soprano-piano duo with Harry Connick Jr., a longtime family friend who released an instrumental quartet session on the label earlier this year. The quartet is alternately mellow (Bearden’s “Seabreeze”) and intense (“Steppin’ on the Blues”), and the eldest Marsalis brother is in fine form, playing both the tenor and soprano with rounded tone and melodic inspiration. A fine recording, with depth and substance.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Matt Collar
Conceptualized around the visionary paintings of Harlem-born artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988), saxophonist Branford Marsalis' Romare Bearden Revealed celebrates the obvious as well as the less tangible connections between the jazz Bearden loved and the artwork it inspired. Reflectively performing some of the songs Bearden co-opted as titles for paintings, Marsalis also includes original compositions inspired by the bluesy, organic quality inherent in Bearden's art. Featuring his working quartet of pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, the album also includes appearances by the whole Marsalis family. Brother Wynton Marsalis revisits his post-bop "J Mood" from his 1985 album of the same name, which featured cover art by Bearden. The trumpeter also keeps things bawdy with some brilliant plunger work on a live recording of Jelly Roll Morton's "Jungle Blues." Similarly, "B's Paris Blues" finds Branford turning his trademark soprano sax to the 1961 Bearden work Paris Blues, celebrating the beauty and ennui of American black musicians who expatriated to France for artistic and social freedom. Even Harry Connick, Jr. drops by for a lithe and soulful stride duet on James P. Johnson's "Carolina Shout." Perhaps most compelling, though, is guitarist Doug Wamble's solo turn on "Autumn Lamp." Inspired by Beardens' 1981 rural vision of a blues guitarist playing by himself under the glow of candle lamp, Wamble utilizes a resonator guitar with a slide, calling to mind Mississippi Fred McDowell's version of "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning" (perhaps Bearden's inspiration as well?). From one great artist to another, this is an earthy and accessible homage.
All About Jazz
Branford and his quartet are in their usual tight form with impeccable, authentic performances that bring Bearden’s art to sound.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/09/2003
Label:
Marsalis Music
UPC:
0011661330627
catalogNumber:
613306

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Branford Marsalis   Primary Artist,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Harry Connick   Piano
Joey Calderazzo   Piano
Ellis Marsalis   Piano
Reginald Veal   Bass
Jeff "Tain" Watts   Drums
Wynton Marsalis   Trumpet
Delfeayo Marsalis   Trombone
Jason Marsalis   Drums
Eric Revis   Bass
Doug Wamble   Guitar

Technical Credits

James P. Johnson   Composer
Jelly Roll Morton   Composer
Irving Mills   Composer
Tommy Ladnier   Composer
Jeff "Tain" Watts   Composer
Lovie Austin   Composer
Larry Douglas   Composer
Duke Ellington   Composer
Branford Marsalis   Composer,Producer
Wynton Marsalis   Composer
Fred Norman   Composer
Jimmy O'Bryant   Composer
Gregg Rubin   Engineer
Bob Blumenthal   Executive Producer
Arnold Levine   Art Direction
Rob "Wacko" Hunter   Engineer
Henry Nemo   Composer
Romare Bearden   Composer,Artwork
Doug Wamble   Composer
Robert O'Meally   Liner Notes
Rommie Bearden   Composer

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