Branford Marsalis's debut as a leader is ambitious yet consistently successful. On "Scenes of the City," his narrative is in the same spirit of some of Charles Mingus's recordings of the 1950s. Otherwise the music is in the modern mainstream vein with Marsalis (on tenor and soprano) hinting strongly at Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane, along with a touch of Sonny Rollins. The backup crew includes such notable young lions as pianist Mulgrew Miller and Kenny Kirkland, bassist Charnett Moffett, and drummers Jeff "Tain" Watts and Marvin "Smitty" Smith in addition to bassist Ron Carter. It's an impressive start to a notable career.
These works of Sally Beamish, composed 2003-12, highlight the inspiration she has found in her adopted homeland Scotland and its landscape and history, while also reflecting her interest in jazz and Scottish traditional music. Often collaboration closely with her performers, the present discs the three concertante works are all played by the eminent soloists for whom they were written: James Crabb, Branford Marsalis and Håkan Hardenberger. Conductor Martyn Brabbins and the RSNO, an ensemble that has performed her works on several occasions, join the former two soloists.
Legendary jazz greats Branford Marsalis and Kurt Elling collaborate for the first time on a full album, Upward Spiral. They ve been talking for a while about making a record together, and finally at the end of 2015 it all came together. They found time to play the new material in the New Orleans Snug Harbor club for four days and then recorded a variety of songs in the studio, all chosen because of their melodic richness and musical quality. Their versions of the chosen material are simply incredible, as the musicality of Branford and Kurt and their deep understanding of these songs shows through immediately.