The Branford Marsalis Quartet will be joined by guest-vocalist Kurt Elling in a singular collaboration of musical forces. The tight-knit working band featuring Marsalis on saxophones, Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass, and Justin Faulkner on drums rarely invites other musicians into the folds of their nearly telepathically cohesive unit, and Elling’s deep jazz vocabulary, technical versatility, and outstanding intonation will enable the band to perform a variety of material in new ways.
It is no secret that the Branford Marsalis Quartet can be as freewheeling off the bandstand as in performance. Each are bold personalities with strong opinions, equally intense in both musical and verbal exchanges. “The band talks about all kinds of things, many of which are unprintable,” Marsalis admits. “But we have serious musical debates as well.” One of these conversations led to Upward Spiral, the new album with special guest Kurt Elling that Marsalis Music released via OKeh Records on June 10, 2016.
Energized by the artistic promise of this collaboration, the band members have all contributed new arrangements to perform with this special line-up and will be looking beyond the Great American Songbook. Although following the format of a standard jazz quartet with vocals, the collaboration between jazz’s most intense band and one of jazz’s foremost singer should prove to be anything but standard.
For Marsalis, Upward Spiral is consistent with all of his previous music. “My philosophy of jazz is that it should be about strong melodies and a great beat, and every song here has a melody that you can hold in your mind, that you can sing. This is not jazz as a personal think tank, where people are only concerned with impressing everyone already inside of the tank with deconstruction and reharmonization. This is the kind of music that should expand our base to include people who would like jazz if it were friendlier. From the minute Kurt started performing with us, it was all good.”