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Album of the week – Upward Spiral by Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling

‘Upward Spiral’ by Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling is Eastside Radio’s album of the week.

The album we are bringing you this week is one that will be a crowd favourite world wide as American saxophonist, composer and bandleader Branford Marsalis has brought us yet another album. With a career in the music industry since the early 80’s and having released over 30 albums. Marsalis has worked across numerous works and genres, the highly talented artist and his quartet have teamed up with Grammy award winning vocalist, composer and lyricist Kurt Elling so you can be assured that this is a record that hosts a lot of combined talent that leaves for some remarkable quality sounds.

Only released on the 10th of June this year this is an album that Marsalis fans and Elling fans are going to be in love with, the two distinguished artists’ have gone and produced an album that is full of “Why wasn’t this done earlier?” sounds. Across 12 tracks these guys wanted to bring us something that was different from the usual vocalist fronting a Jazz band. Marsalis is quoted saying himself “I don’t need a collaborator to do what I normally do, and Kurt doesn’t, either.” “The idea for the new album was to get together to do something different.” “The goal here, even though he sings lyrics, was to highlight Kurt’s voice as an instrument.” Well if there was ever a voice to do such a thing we all know Elling has that voice that was made for Jazz, not only has he won several awards for his contribution to the world of Jazz it was only in 2013 he was named International Jazz Artist of the Year in the Jazz FM Awards.

With Marsalis on the sax, Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner playing the drums we have got ourselves a quartet that is bulging with talent and experience. When it came to deciding what route they were going to go with their sound and styles everyone had an input so it is great to have five different musical heads who all listen to different kinds of music having their say. It is not as if Marsalis himself has been confined to a Jazz box since he started his career, having worked alongside the likes of Sting on a number of albums and being leader of Jay Leno’s show band he is an artist who has brushed off many genres. In more recent years Branford has focused a lot of his work towards classical music having toured the world performing with symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles, however with ‘Upward Spiral’ he has gone back to what he does best and what he loves and that is playing some great Jazz on his sax.

As it is the first time Marsalis has worked with a vocalist on board for the whole album it is interesting to hear how they have brought both their talents and ideas to the table and equally added their own personal touches to the record. If you log onto our website at eastsidefm.org you will hear in the podcast section an interview that Philip James here at Eastside Radio did with Branford Marsalis. In the interview he speaks about the making of the album and how they decided on tracks, a track that is definitely one of the most stand out pieces on the album is Calvin Forbes’ poem ‘Momma Said’ this is one of Elling’s choices as he really wanted to incorporate a poem into the album, so after lots of searching they decided on this poem about a spoilt child. Other tracks such as the timeless classic `There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York’was Marsalis pick which he made quite the pleasant rework of. Another famous Jazz standard which they have turned into their own is Sonny Rollins’ 1957 hit ‘Doxy’ that gives a real uplifting swinging sound to the record.

From what started as a weekend going over some song choices at New Orleans’ Snug Harbor to then three days in the studios of the Ellis Marsalis Centre for Music, these guys have really given us something special here, that is and will be received highly across the globe. When you take two artists’ who are so strong in their own right and put them together for an entire album sometimes it is noticeable who is backing up who, however on ‘Upward Spiral’ all musicians working alongside each other figured out a way to match each other beautifully. As mentioned above it is far more then a vocalist fronting a Jazz band we get to hear all hands on deck intertwined to make for a nice mixture of sounds from emotional tearjerkers to some modern jazz Americana and we even get some poetry as well. You know yourself when you hear of these two all time greats coming together this is going to be an album full of substance all you need to do now is go and enjoy it.

Artist Listing

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis

Vocalist Kurt Elling

Pianist Joey Calderazzo,

Bassist Eric Revis

Drummer Justin Faulkner

Track Listing

1. There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York

2. Blue Gardenia

3. From One Island to Another

4. Practical Arrangement

5. Doxy

6. I’m a Fool to Want You

7. West Virginia Rose

8. Só Tinha de Ser Com Você

9. Momma Said

10.Cassandra Song

11. Blue Velvet

12.The Return (Upward Spiral)

You can follow Branford Marsalis career at branfordmarsalis.com or via his FACEBOOK page. For an extended listen to the album, tune in on Thursday from 1.30PM – 2PM for ‘Album of the Week’ with Josh Crosbie. Don’t forget to also listen out for your opportunity to win a copy of ‘’Upward Spiral’ all week. You must be a supporter to win so make sure to sign up at http://eastsidefm.org/support-us-2/. You can also stream the station at WWW.EASTSIDEFM.ORG.

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