Branford Marsalis Quartet

Back in July, just after we’d seen Wynton Marsalis, Brooke ordered tickets to see his brother Branford. Last night was the show. Branford plays saxophone, and tours as a quartet. As always, I found myself concentrating most on the drummer. Jeff “Tain” Watts was another amazing performer. My major annoyance with some jazz music is that the musicians get bogged down in endless noodling. Watts was (almost) always the light that kept my ship off the rocks last night. And since our seats were practically over the stage, I could look straight down on him and see all the amazing things he was doing.

When I was younger, I played in a couple of bands. We were completely non-serious and even non-talented, and I ended up playing the drums almost by default, but even now, I find myself picking out the drum parts in music. A good drummer can turn an ordinary song into something great. And drummers can also get in the way, too. For instance, although Ringo is often derided as the least talented Beatle, he never got in the way of the music. By contrast, I’ve always found Police drummer Stewart Copeland to be far too showy. On a lot of their music, he over-drums outrageously. Especially in three-piece bands, the drummer is vital, but he should never draw too much attention to himself.