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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby


Branford Marsalis

The Steep Anthology

Columbia/Legacy 512913-2




  1. Doctone

  2. Maria

  3. Royal garden Blues

  4. Evidence

  5. Cain & Abel

  6. Spartacus

  7. No Backstage Pass

  8. Sidney in Da Haus

  9. The Dark Keys

  10. Three Little Words

As these tracks are taken from a number of different Branford Marsalis albums, the personnel varies from track to track but, Branford Marsalis tenor and soprano saxes is on all the tracks and

Kenny Kirkland - piano
Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts – drums
Robert Hurst – bass
Are on many.

Brother Wynton Marsalis appears on track 5 and track 8, father Ellis is on piano on 3 and Ron Carter on bass on 3 and 7.

The Marsalis Dynasty have been very significant contributors to the jazz world for many years now, father Ellis taught at the New Orleans Centre for Creative Art and his sons, who studied there, have made it into the highest echelons of the jazz world. This album is about his eldest son, the eclectic Branford. His career has followed many paths, appearing with ‘pop stars, classical ensembles, acting in motion pictures, directing a TV talk show and teaching at prestigious universities. His primary allegiance however has always been to jazz and this album can leave no one in any doubt as to why. Of the more modern players, he is to my mind one of the very best, he acknowledges all of the roots of jazz and has not lost his way in the weird and wonderful, like so many of the ‘so called’ contemporary music players. He has a superb tone on both tenor and soprano and a seemingly endless flow of ideas, whether he is playing a traditional jazz tune aka Royal Garden Blues, or an original composition of his own, his playing always holds the listener. The untimely death of Kenny Kikland robbed the jazz world of one of its greatest talents and anyone who doubts that should listen to his work here. Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts proved a very exciting partner for Branford and he never fails to propel the ensemble along with great passion.

There is not a poor track here and Nedra Olds-Neal, who did the compilation, is to be congratulated. The content is varied and always interesting, I was fascinated by both the brothers’ contribution to the tribute to Sidney Bechet on Track 8. B oth Branford and Wynton have taken the time and trouble to research the roots of jazz and the playing of both benefits significantly from it. This is an album not to be missed by any serious jazz fan that does not own the albums the various tracks are taken from.

By the way most of the tracks are produced by Delfeayo Marsalis another member of this wonderfully musical family!

Don Mather

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