Branford Marsalis Trio – Bloomington

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Branford Marsalis Trio – Bloomington

1993 Sony/Columbia
Recorded Live on 9/23/91, University of Indiana Auditorium

Branford Marsalis – tenor & soprano saxophones
Robert Hurst – bass
Jeff “Tain” Watts – drums

I’ve been listening to this CD quite a bit over the last few days.  A thrift store was having a President’s Day sale on Monday and all music items were half off.  Their CD selection is not great, but this was there and it was only 50 cents.

I only really got into Branford Marsalis about a year ago.  I didn’t know much about him other than we has Wynton’s brother, he was the leader of the Tonight Show band for a few years in the 90’s, and he had played with the Dead a few times.  I guess I always sort of dismissed him as contemporary crap.  But as I started picking up a few of his albums, I found out I was wrong.  The dude can play.  And all of the releases I’ve heard so far are much more real and raw than I expected, which brings me back to Bloomington.

He is playing with a trio here with Robert Hurst on upright bass and Tain Watts on the kit.   They are all killing it for pretty much the entire disc.  I’m glad that this is not a larger ensemble here because it may has ruined the vibe.  There is alot of energy in this set.  It’s raw, the playing is exceptional all around, and there aren’t any sappy ballads or anything like that.  It also has a timeless quality that might not be there if there were guitar or keys.  Right before the last song, which I assume was the encore, a girl in the audience yells “DARK STAR!”.  Then Branford delivers by playing the first few notes.  This would have been an incredible show to be at.  The audience probably would have been quite diverse at this point in his career after starring in a Spike Lee movie and playing with Sting and the Dead.

Standout tracks for me are “Xavier’s Lair” and “Citizen Tain“.

Here’s a video of Branford’s trio from earlier that year.

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