Crazy People Music
Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist
Produced by Delfeayo Marsalis
Executive Producer George Butler
Recorded by Patrick Smith and Tim Geelan
Recorded January 10, February 18 and March 1, 1990 at RCA Studio, New York, NY
About the Album
Crazy People Music
"Crazy People Music," writes Leonard Feather in his liner notes to the saxophone's sixth album for Columbia Records, "may seem like an odd title for a recording by an artist who, when the circumstances demand it, is dead serious about his music; but that is part of the Janus-faced personality of Branford."
Indeed, from his early performances with his brother Wynton in the award winning line-up of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, to their time together with the Herbie Hancock Quartet and VSOP II, then through Wynton's first four solo albums, Branford earned critical and professional recognition that would set the stage for his thriving solo career as a leader.
Branford's electric nature surfaced on his Grammy-nominated jazz and classical recordings, completed by session work with dozens of artists ranging from Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie to Tina Turner and Teena Marie. A four year stint as the central figure in Sting's world class touring and recording band, and three highly praised movie roles ("Bring On The Night," "Throw Mama From the Train" and Spike Lee's "School Daze") round out a profile that is as unique as any to be found in popular music today.
The past year has added another dimension to Branford's profile, both Columbia Records projects with his friend Spike Lee. The first featured Branford performing for the original score for Do the Right Thing (released October, 1989), joining the 'Natural Spirit Orchestra' and guests Marlon Jordan, Terrance Blanchard and Donald Harrison. The second is Music from Mo' Better Blues, the movie starring Denzel Washington as an itinerant young jazzman in which the performance of Branford and his quartet is prominently featured. (The movie is set for release in August, 1990.)
The common thread running throughout everything Branford has done, it should be obvious is his unstinting devotion to the jazz tradition. On last year's Trio Jeepy album, for example, this took the form of an idyllic, double-LP length homage to the masterful bass playing of 'The Judge,' Milt Hinton, who "not only represents tradition," to paraphrase producer Delfeayo Marsalis, "this great man is tradition!"
Crazy People Music, Branford's fifth album with Delfeayo, marks the first full-tilt excursion by the aptly named Branford Marsalis Quartet: Branford, pianist Kenny Kirkland, bassist Bob Hurst, and drummer Jeff 'Tain' Watts. Branford's routinely abstruse references are heard on "Mr. Steepee" (one of his many nicknames); "Random Abstract (Diddle-It)", the title reprising his 1986 album, and sub-title having to do with 4-year old son Reese's preference for free jazz; and the Quincy Jones-Bill Cosby theme, "The Ballad of Chet Kincaid (Hicky-Burr)." Keith Jarrett's "Rose Petals" and two 'Steeplone' originals ("Sparticus" and "Wolverine") expand further in the imaginative care of Branford - "an upbeat, outgoing artist," says Feather, "with provocative and valuable opinions on every subject, a man at once of good humor and rare depth."