Branford Marsalis Quartet,
Romare Bearden Revealed
(Rounder, 2003)

It's not easy being green. It's not easy being the sibling of someone who has a reputation. Many of us remember the sinking feeling in our solar plexus when Mr. Crabbe would take attendance on the first day of school, and portentously announce, "Ah, you must be No-name's brother/sister/cousin/etc." If No-name was memorable for being a well-behaved sort with excellent grades and a credit to his family, duty propelled you toward either screwing up, outperforming No-name or assuming a role that did not always bode well for your school year. Any way you looked at it, you were DOOMED. Of course, in some families, notoriety is something that comes because one is a Barrymore, Roosevelt, Kennedy or whomever. All this serves as a prelude of sorts for the main event, which is my enthusiastic song of praise for a fine CD, and a masterful Marsalis.

Many people assume that the only musicians out of New Orleans are people like the Neville Brothers. Although the Neville Brothers are talented, and have been around a while, I prefer the Marsalis family as an example of a close-knit, fine-tuned group of talented, elegant performers. In Romare Bearden Revealed, Branford Marsalis takes his mighty musical talents and applies his own artistry to the unique art of Romare Bearden, a collage maker who could design pieces that would knock your socks off. Among the performers who play so very well on this CD, are Branford Marsalis, saxophone; Joey Calderazzo, piano; Eric Revis, bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts, drums; and all members of the Branford Marsalis Quartet. Guest artists are: Harry Connick Jr., piano; Delfeayo Marsalis, trombone; Ellis Marsalis, piano; Jason Marsalis, drums; Wynton Marsalis, trumpet; Eric Revis, bass; Reginald Veal, bass; and Doug Wimble, guitar. Some of the tunes within this CD are such gems as "Slapping Seventh Avenue with the Sole of My Shoes," "Of the Blues: Carolina Shout" and "Paris Blues," to name only a few.

This CD is one that should be part of every jazz lover's collection. Although Romare Bearden was not famous for writing jazz (on occasion, he did), his artistry with paint and the joy of his creativity combines into a CD that is well worth the purchase. For those who are more visually oriented, there are liner notes, pictures of the paintings alongside their songs and a richness and texture that could convert anyone to jazz.

- Rambles
written by Ann Flynt
published 4 September 2004

Buy it from