This week I had the opportunity to listen to Branford Marsalis’ newest release, Four Mfs Playin’ Tunes. This album is the first of his to feature 21 year old drummer Justin Faulkner who in the last 5 years has replaced the seemingly irreplaceable Jeff “Tain” Watts. Tain is one of the most powerfully aggressive modern drummers out there who helped change the face of modern jazz in the 1980’s, but now is busy with his own projects which is why Faulkner has taken over since 2009 (when he was 18). Branford Marsalis’ quartet has a very nostalgic sound to it, as it really hasn’t changed much since 1984. The same hard driving swing that characterized the young lions from the late 80s/early 90s is still there, but so is the more relaxed and fluid songs that seem to lack time whatsoever: another Branford specialty. All in all, the album is what I expected, which doesn’t mean it’s bad at all, it’s your classic Branford, none of the guitar and drums heavy pretentious stuff you might hear at a Berkelee College of Music jazz senior recital, this is just four MFs playin’ tunes.
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