The Steep Anthology
First Appeared at The Music Box, April 2004, Volume 11, #4
Written by John Metzger
The Steep Anthology merely scratches the surface of Branford Marsalisí recordings, yet it succeeds in painting the jazzier aspects of his career with supreme clarity. Each of the compilationsí ten tracks views his stylistic approach from a different angle, shifting from the swinging, New Orleans blues of Sidney in Da Haus to a tranquil cover of Leonard Bernsteinís Maria to the masterful modal jazz workout Spartacus. Itís no surprise that, like his peers, Marsalis owes a tremendous debt to those that came before him, and one can hear the influences of legends like John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Ornette Coleman, and Sonny Rollins pervading his work.
Where many of his generation tend to regurgitate, however, Marsalis reinvents. Throughout The Dark Keys, he overtly employs segments from Coltraneís A Love Supreme, yet, his predecessor serves merely as a spiritual guide for his own fanciful flights. While the inclusion of his forays into R&B, hip-hop, classical, reggae, and rock would have offered an even broader glimpse of Marsalisí grand vision, itís within the jazz world that he has truly excelled to become the most talented saxophonist of his generation.
The Steep Anthology is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box