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Branford Marsalis Quartet at Jazz Standard last night: Tight and Unwound; Greatest Sets Ever # 4

What pictures and videos don’t show you about Branford Marsalis is his sheer presence on the stage. Leading a young (the drummer is just eighteen!) intensely vigorous sharp as hell quartet, he rminded me of the Denzel Washington character in Spike Lee’s “Mo’ Better Blues” -a movie Branford wrote the music for.

With the exception of a sleep inducing ballad in the middle the set was awesome.All rhymic attack, with the pianist and the drummer fighting to see who could take the sharpest angles on songs like the opener “The Return Of The JitneyMan” much, much than on the quartet’s new album recommended any way “Metamorphasen”.

Everything tonight felt tight and unwound at the same time -pianist Joey Calderazzo was especially fine and Branford was good on Alto and great on tenor sax. The band was a blast to watch putting the lie to Branford’s comments in the New York Times last week: no a charismatic presense would not make jazz popular again.

By the last night of the one hour set (I certainly could’ve gone for more) the band was adding ragtime and swing to their bop and me? I’d forgiven Marsalis for “Breakfast at Dennys”. Speaking of concerts:next week, indie sensation the Pains of Being Pure at Heart on Tuesday, Leonard Cohen a week today.

Another first set on a different night. June 15th, 1996 at Tamps Jerry Lee Lewis just… took off. Leaning back on his chair, moving the pedals like a race card driver and with band leader the great James Burton (yes Presley’s Taking Care Of Business James Burton) following him with ease, the Killer let the audience call out request and without a set list, without a concern, he played em.

This had all the qualities you could ask for in a concert: a great band, a great rocker, and the ease of a man who has been doing it for a life time just doing it so very well. My friend stayed for the second set and told me Jerry Lee wasn’t half as good and I myself caught him that October and thought he was fine but he wasn’t this.

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