BRANFORD MARSALIS, SOLO FROM “IN THE CREASE”
It’s been quite a long while since i’ve been able to post material. life in Tokyo has been pretty crazy since the big quake and subsequent nuclear drama. i ended up leaving Tokyo (and my computer) with my family for a couple of weeks and considered relocating permanently. but, warts and all, i really enjoy living and working here. i sincerely hope that Japan’s government will get its act together and take bold steps to deal with the crisis. i also hope that everyone takes a moment to reflect on the scope of this disaster, remembering those who lost their homes and loved ones. while you’re at it, think about all the other places in the world, especially those places that aren’t in the centers of mass communication, where folks are coping with war, famine, disasters natural and man-made, and poverty…
I’ve been listening to Branford’s song “In The Crease” from his record CONTEMPORARY JAZZ (featuring Jeff Watts on drums, Eric Revis on bass and Joey Calderazzo on piano) for several weeks. it’s difficult to figure out exactly what’s going on formally because of the shifting time signatures. i sat down with the recording and tried to sketch out the song but couldn’t decide the best way to lay the melody out. i finally gave up and went onto other things. a while later, i happened upon a youtube recording (embedded below) of Marsalis and his band (Justin Faulkner replaces Watts on drums) performing the song live in concert and decided to give it another go. i again crashed and burned and so decided to cheat a little bit. i went online to see if i could find any lead sheets. i finally came across one HERE. it makes a lot of sense; there are a couple things that i would change, some notes left out of the melody and bass line, but it’s dang close. since the lead sheet is already available, i decided to concentrate on Branford’s solo.
i’m still amazed at how different a solo seems once i see it written down. Branford’s solo (starting at :47 on the youtube video) is difficult but not in same way a Coltrane solo, for example, is. the lines themselves are relatively easy to execute. the complexity is in the rhythms he plays over the form, which is ten bars long and contains a couple meter changes. Marsalis handles the shifting time signatures with ease and raises the bar by incorporating devices like rhythmic displacement and playing phrases over bar lines to blur the form. his playing here reminds me of funk, albeit with a different sound and set of melodic material. he generally plays short, riffy ideas and leaves a lot of room for the rhythm section to comment and generate tension and energy. it’s a great solo. Calderazzo takes a great solo as well. the highlight however is the drumming of Faulkner. he hooks up nicely with Revis and his energy and creativity never flags. he delivers and incredible solo to take the song out.