Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo - Songs of Mirth & Melancholy (CD)

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Apparently, the Marsalis-Calderazzo collaboration came about by happenstance — sort of. Calderazzo was already the pianist for Marsalis’ working quartet, and the two decided to perform as a duo at the 2009 Newport Jazz Festival. Sax and piano make an unorthodox combination for sure, but in this case the results were stunning. Marsalis — nevermind his pedigree — is such a natural that he can swing without the “trappings” of a traditional rhythm section (to borrow a phrase from San Francisco vocalist Lorin Benedict, who eschews trappings of any sort). Moreover, he’s not strictly a jazz musician. Many of the songs on this mostly original album (save for covers of Brahms’ “Die Trauernde” and Wayne Shorter’s “Face on the Barroom Floor”) sound like baroque or classical music.

That’s particularly true of “The Bard Lachrymose,” a bittersweet hymnal composition on which Marsalis plays soprano sax. It sounds like something out of the 19th century. Calderazzo’s “La Valse Kendall” is a little jazzier, even if the waltz rhythm seems fixed and mannered. Marsalis decides to stretch out on that one, using a series of triplet figures on his solo and dancing around the song’s main theme. But since Songs is actually about shifts in temperament, it also includes some jaunty, happy tunes — like Calderazzo’s stride piano opener, “One Way.” Marsalis’ “Endymion,” about an ancient Greek shepherd, features a lot of romping and frolicking by both soloists (as befits the subject matter). It’s perhaps the best example of these musicians’ rapport — they can move in and out of time without ever losing the form, or each other.

  1. Performer
  2. Jazz General
Copy Control
Number of Items
Songs of Mirth and Melancholy *
Country of Origin
Emarcy (USA)

Down Beat (p.58) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The rolling contours of 'Endymion' have a fugue-like character that brings a sense of classical temperament to the music."
JazzTimes (p.67) - "In the duo setting, unencumbered, both musicians shine; but there's no strutting going on here, no cutting contest, only a singular vision."


One Way Album Version Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo 07:13
The Bard Lachrymose Album Version Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo 04:28
La Valse Kendall Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo 07:40
Face on the Barroom Floor Album Version Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo 04:31
Endymion Album Version Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo 06:02
Die Trauernde Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo 01:42
Hope Album Version Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo 8:49
Precious Album Version Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo 06:02
Bri's Dance Album Version Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo 08:04

South Africa
Release Date
10 June 2011
Songs / Tracks
  1. [ Disc 01 Track 01 ] One Way
  2. [ Disc 01 Track 02 ] Bard Lachrymose, The
  3. [ Disc 01 Track 03 ] Valse Kendall, La
  4. [ Disc 01 Track 04 ] Face on the Barroom Floor
  5. [ Disc 01 Track 05 ] Endymion
  6. [ Disc 01 Track 06 ] Trauernde, Die
  7. [ Disc 01 Track 07 ] Hope
  8. [ Disc 01 Track 08 ] Precious
  9. [ Disc 01 Track 09 ] Bri's Dance

Audio Mixer: Rob "Wacko" Hunter.
Liner Note Author: Darius Milhaud.
Recording information: Hayti Center, Durham, NC (01/03/2010-01/05/2010).
Photographer: Stephen Sheffield.
Saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo pair up for the ruminative yet adventurous 2011 duo date Songs of Mirth and Melancholy. While both musicians are clearly jazz titans, here the focus is on sympathetic, creative interaction and honest readings of the melodic classical music-inflected material.

55m 1s
Studio / Live
Video Disabled
Joey Calderazzo/Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
  1. Marsalis, Branford / Joey Calderazzo
Rob "Wacko" Hunter
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