We review Branford Marsalis's 'Contemporary Jazz' and the Wynton Marsalis Septet's 'The Marciac Suite'
Saxist Branford Marsalis, looser and fresher than ever, comes out swinging with his powerhouse post-hard-bop quartet. Reclaiming ”Contemporary Jazz” from the vapid smooth-jazz camp, they blow mightily. The Wynton Marsalis Septet, meanwhile, successfully links the Souths of France and America on The Marciac Suite. The New Orleans native, long a hero at the Marciac festival, honors the host town with a well-conceived suite for his Septet. Joy, brains, rhythmic flexibility — even educational worth — spill forth in a cerebral gumbo spiced with joie de vivre.