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Világsztárok Magyarországon


Világsztárok Magyarországon – A Branford Marsalis Quartet a Dokkban 1998. július 8-án

Közel 19 évvel ezelőtt me and my lovely wife Gabriella nagy izgalommal mentünk erre a koncertre, ti. egyik családi kedvencünk Branford Marsalis. Akkor még nem gyanítottuk, hogy 7 évvel később a MüPába mi hozzuk el klasszikus zenét játszani… - A szerk.

Egészen megdöbbentő, hogy a neten szinte semmi visszhangja nincs ennek a koncertnek! Pedig nálam a mai napig a FG kategóriába tartozik!

Aztán hosszas keresgélés után az alábbi angol nyelvű beszámolót találtam a Kim Novak együttes egykori basszusgitárosától, Nagy Gergelytől.

AN EVENING WITH BRANFORD MARSALIS

8 July 1998
Dokk Backstage Arena, Budapest, Hungary
A review by Gergely Nagy


Branford Marsalis: tenor & soprano sax
Kenny Kirkland: piano
Eric Revis: double bass
Jeff 'Tain' Watts: drums

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Branford Marsalis (former musician of Sting) is one of the most famous and popular jazz saxophonists today. He is really a unique artist and he is open to many musical styles as post bop, blues, jazz-rock, hip-hop or even classical music. His first appearance in Hungary was ten years ago within Sting's 'Amnesty International Tour'. Kenny Kirkland (current keyboard player of Sting's band) has already been to my country on two occasions (in 1988 and 1996) before this particular performance. Both musicians and drummer Jeff 'Tain' Watts (worked with Kenny Garrett and Michael Brecker recently) have been playing jazz together for about 17 years. The fourth and youngest man of the quartet was the bass player, Eric Revis.

The show took place on the Óbudai Island in the Dokk Backstage Arena. Fortunately, it was not an open-air event because it was the coldest and windiest summer evening I can remember. This new, huge and bright building (which is a pub, a restaurant and a small concert hall in one) is at a dockyard on the banks of the river Danube in Budapest. The place was fully crowded (in spite of the high ticket prices); some people were having dinner at the tables and others were drinking at the bar counter. All of them were watching a large video projector in the middle of the hall; the World Cup semi-finals. It was the match between France and Croatia. As I was walking through downstairs, I saw a few black guys on the first floor smoking, drinking and laughing, but not really interested in the soccer. When I realised that one of them was Kenny Kirkland (sitting back to the screen) I waved to him then he started smiling and waved back to me. It was impossible to get closer to them because of the security guards, but it was a great fun anyway! :-)

When the match was over (it was no extra time, thank God!) the audience moved to the concert hall where approx. 300-400 people could be seated. The lights were fine and we could see the instruments on stage (the Boesendorfer piano and the drumkit were properties of Hungarian musicians, by the way). After we heard some warming-up snatches from backstage by Branford, they finally came out at about 23:00.

Marsalis started complaining 'I hurt my back today. Oh, shit! It hurts... I'm tired too'. Then he introduced his band and played the first song called 'Spartacus' (about a 12-minute-long composition) which was recorded by one of the Hungarian television channels. It was a speedy tune with Branford's fantastic tenor solos and Kenny's brilliant piano work. The second song was a very funny swing theme beginning with Jeff's incredible drum solo. Branford played on soprano sax and there was a nice bass solo by Eric. Marsalis also played on soprano sax in the third song which was written by Kenny Kirkland. The next one was Jeff's composition (with a bit of Thelonious Monk feeling) in which Branford changed to tenor saxophone. I liked the fifth tune best. It was really cool! An amazing free jazz where sometimes Jeff Watts played simple rock rhythms... The following tune was very familiar to me, I'm sure I have heard it before. It contained a tenor sax, a piano, a bass and finally a long drum solo. Kenny used some South American patterns too (he likes to play them especially in his live solos with Sting e.g. in the medley of 'Bring On The Night/When The World Is Running Down...'). The encore was a Keith Jarrett composition titled 'So Tender' played by Kenny, Jeff and Eric. Branford didn't show up again so it was only performed in a trio formation.

By the way, he didn't communicate too much with the audience but he said 'Thanks' in Hungarian a couple of times. 'Köszönöm,' then he said 'I'm sorry I don't speak Hungarian. I hope you speak English'. Someone shouted from the audience 'Don't worry!'. 'Well, I worry but I can't do anything about it...' replied Branford. :)

Unfortunately, he almost couldn't move because of his severe backache. He was standing during his solos or sitting and resting on a bar stool while the others were playing, but sometimes it was hard for him to get up. For example, once he dropped a bottle of water after drinking because he simply couldn't put it back to the ground. All musicians seemed to be in a good mood despite the bandleader's health problems and the late starting of the gig. The whole concert was not longer than one and a half hour but it felt like an eternity for me. It was the very last (the 27th, I think) leg of their European tour. In my opinion, everyone did his best that night. Pure and modern acoustic jazz!

At the end of the performance Branford did not take a bow, but we understood him and we were not angry at all... ;-)


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