The Branford Marsalis Quartet will release Upward Spiral, featuring Kurt Elling as guest vocalist, via Marsalis Music on OKeh Records, June 10.
The album marks Brandford Marsalis’ first project as leader since In My Solitude, which was released in 2014. It also reunites the saxophonist with his longtime quartet, composed by pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner.
Kurt Elling, featured on Upward Spiral as guest vocalist, welcomed the opportunity to record with Marsalis’ quartet. He said, “I love singing with a hard-hitting band, I didn’t want Branford’s band to feel that it had to hold back because a singer was there. To be welcomed into the quartet’s circle, which is all about new challenges and hard blowing, was very important to me.”
Upward Spiral will be comprised of a mixture of staples from the Great American Songbook, modern jazz standards and popular music mainstays from a diverse array of composers. Highlights include a version of “Doxy” by Sonny Rollins with lyrics by Mark Murphy, an arrangement of the Nat King Cole-affiliated “Blue Gardenia” and Christ Whitley’s bluesy “From One Island To Another.” Marsalis said, “My philosophy of jazz is that it should be about strong melodies and a great beat, and every song here has a melody that you can hold in your mind, that you can sing.”
In addition to releasing Upward Spiral, The Branford Marsalis Quartet featuring Kurt Elling will be headlining the 2016 Monterey Jazz Festival, which will take place on September 16-18.