January 27, 2005
NECESSARILY LESS THAN SUPREME:
A Suitably Pyrotechnic Revisitation of Coltrane's Signature Testimony: Branford Marsalis Quartet's Coltrane's A Love Supreme and Live in Amsterdam (Francis Davis, January 25th, 2005, Village Voice)
Released on both audio and video in one package, Branford Marsalis's live version of A Love Supreme gets it right. Coltrane's four-part suite was his religious testimony; Marsalis is chasing Coltrane, not salvation, but whereas his earlier attempt on Footsteps of Our Fathers left him panting, here he keeps pace with a display of saxophone pyrotechnics comparable to Coltrane's, though very different in character. His tone is lighter and his phrasing bluesier, especially on "Pursuance" (the second movement, and more or less Miles Davis's "Nardis" turned upside down), where his gradual ascent into the scream register shows he knows the difference between building to a climax and giving in to self-induced frenzy. [...] This is the Branford Marsalis we've been waiting for. He does honor to a classic while finally emerging as his own man.
What's the point? If we had recordings of Bach playing his fugues there'd be no need for other versions. Posted by Orrin Judd at January 27, 2005 7:54 AM