Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Branford Marsalis - Romances for Saxophone (1986)

Note: this release was originally purchased as an LP, later replaced by a CD.

Wanting to follow in the footsteps of younger brother Wynton, Branford Marsalis makes an attempt to play classical music on the soprano saxophone. Most of the cuts are transcriptions of Romantic works by French and Russian composers. They work well, for the most part. This album introduced me to some chamber music I might not have heard otherwise as I preferred big orchestral works while in college. As far as classical music goes, this isn't heavy lifting. It even says "Light Classics" on the cover. However, throughout the material, Marsalis shows great mastery of the instrument. Soprano saxophone is easy to play (think of Warren Beatty in the movie Heaven Can Wait), but it is very difficult to play well. The tasteful, controlled tone Marsalis achieves on the instrument in these recordings is remarkable.

Tracks: Fauré's Pavane is achingly beautiful. What a great transcription. I also like Rachmaninoff's Vocalise as well as Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 by Villa-Lobos. I may be in the minority here, but I've never cared much for any of Satie's Gymnopedies, so the transcription of No. 3 here isn't my favorite.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: This album was played often at 1311 Lee St., Commerce, Texas during 1987. It also led to several failed attempts at transcribing Pavane for trumpet and piano; I could never get it to work.

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