Last Sunday, the Music Mill, 3420 E. 82nd St., ventured into the heady jazz world of the Branford Marsalis Quartet and it was potent. With sidemen that are also leaders and recording artist on their own, like Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Jaff "Tain" Watts on drums, they provided almost two hours of high-energy, intense, no-holds-barred jazz.
Opening with an avant garde romp, "In the Crease," Marsalis took no prisoners, ripping off searing choruses on tenor sax. Equally sustaining the musical assault were his rhythm mates. On Ornette Coleman's tune "Gigging," Marsalis switched to soprano sax, stretching and wailing away over a hard-driving rhythm from Watts' relentless drumming and Revis' booming bass.
Calderazzo burned eight choruses, not using his left hand for comping at all. It was Calderazzo's original "The Lonely Swan" that gave the quartet a chance to switch gears for this lovely ballad with classical overtones that was the most melodic piece of the set.
The evening wound up in a three-way tenor sax battle when Marsalis brought two college players out to showcase their skills with him on a jazz blues riff. Branford Marsalis told a near capacity room, "We normally don't get to cut loose and play like this on the concert circuit, it was fun." It was the same for those who attended. Here's hoping the Music Mill, which has a great sounding room and visual offerings, will bring more jazz artists of this caliber onto their stage.
If you want to share what the Branford Marsalis Quartet is all about, highly recommended is their latest release, Branford Marsalis Quartet, Coltrane's A Love Supreme Live in Amsterdam. It's a double disc CD and DVD.
Killer Ray's tribute to Wes
Legendary drummer Killer Ray Appleton returned home last Saturday with his "Tribute to Wes Montgomery" show at the Jazz Kitchen. Appleton has presented this loving salute to Wes around New York for the past year. The lineup included local artists Frank Puzzullo on piano, Rob Dixon on tenor sax, Frank Smith on bass and Russia via New York guitarist Ilyia Lustok.
The arrangements and performance were exceptional classic jazz with a '60s sound. Noteworthy were the linear melodic lines Lustok and Dixon performed throughout the evening. It was an evening of blues- and bebop-based tunes of Wes with Appleton giving insight into Montgomery's music.
Dixon was sterling in his roll, especially on Hank Mobley's "Hippy Sippy Blues" as he preached some wailing choruses. Lostok is a guitar find for Appleton. He has learned every nuance of Montgomery and was especially impressive on Montgomery's blues "Moving Wes" and the gorgeous ballad "MiCosa." Puzzollo's bop-oriented piano cooked away through the whole set but showed a rich
technique and invention on a solo ballad journey on "Spring Is Here."
Killer Ray Appleton's tribute to Wes is a well-paced and loving honor to one of Indy's jazz icons. It would be nice if he can get it recorded.
* Jeff Coffin's mu'tet debut Saturday at the Jazz Kitchen will bring in one of the most eclectic jazz performers on the scene. Coffin may be familiar to both jazz and rock fans because of his long association with the Grammy-winning Bela Fleck & the Flecktones. Stylistically, Coffin's sax and compositions are musically all over the place - from Indian ragas to gospel, blues, funk, bebop and New Orleans second line music. Incorporating electronics, turntable scratch and percussion, he also plays two horns simultaneously. Coffin is serious about jazz; he just presents it in a broader setting.
* Gregg Bacon's sax and James Simmons' keyboards and guitar make dining a special event every Tuesday at Cafe @ Ray, 946 S. Meridian St. from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
* The JRW Trio plays jazz from Richard Rogers to Theolonius Monk Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Bourbon Street Distillery, 361 Indiana Ave.
* Convergence plays Tuesday at Easley Winery at 5 p.m.
* Billy Wooten & Friends play 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. each Thursday at The House Cafe in Glendale.
* Dave Hepler's solo piano jazz sets the mood for dining at the Midtown Grill, 815 E. Westfield Blvd., Fridays and Saturdays, 6 to 9 p.m.
* Kelleen's silky jazz vocals with her trio can be heard on Fridays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Velvet Lounge, 3407 E. 82nd St.