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Photos by Rudy Lu

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Schenectady, NY
February 3, 2012

by Rudy Lu

Jazz is by definition a rhythmic music.  Bass and drums traditionally carry the rhythm. It is challenging to present jazz in a percussionless duo.   This was done successfully by Branford Marsalis and his long time pianist Joey Calderazzo during the first set of a two set concert at Schenectady’s Proctors Theater.

Branford’s soulful and mournful soprano sax opened the concert accompanied by Joey’s sensitive playing on “La Valse Kendall” and “The Bard Lacrymose”.  A heavy influence of classical music was heard as harmony and melody were heavily emphasized.

In contrast, during the heavily NOLA influenced “One Way”; Branford’s tenor turning and swooping was accompanied by Joey’s rhythmic stride piano.

The second set was played by Branford’s quartet. They duo was joined by longtime band mate and bassist Eric Revis plus young drummer Justin Faulkner.  The dynamics of loud/soft and fast/slow that make for the excitement of live music dominated the set.

Branford, one of the former “Young Lions of Jazz” left plenty of room for his band of veterans and the young Faulkner to stretch out.  Faulkner dazzled the crowd roaming over his entire drum kit, always musical not overplaying, and extremely mature for a 20 year old. Much of the second set seemed more like a jazz trio than a quartet.  Whenever Branford played, he did have a commanding presence.  He absolutely “nailed it” on Thelonious Monk’s “Teo”, his tenor swirling around the band's high energy.   Sometime during the end of the set, Eric Revis broke a string on his bass adding to the excitement of the evening,

For an encore, the band went “old school” playing Branford’s tribute to New Orleans legendary clarinetist Sidney Bechet “Treat it Gentle”.  Going back home was a great way to end an evening of music even though it was played with a three string bass. No more strings were needed.

Rudy Lu is a safety consultant by day , fine arts photographer nights and weekends and an occasional music critic. He has had a passion for jazz since his college days when he was a dj for WRUC (Radio Union College). He is a frequent contributor to as well as His work has been exhibited locally and has been featured by both nationally known and local musicians. He lives in Niskayuna, NY.