Reviewed by Lory Martinez
Grammy Award-winning Saxophonist Branford Marsalis wowed a packed house at Binghamton University’s Anderson Center for the Performing Arts last week (Oct. 28) when he presented his classical music showcase, “Marsalis: Well -Tempered,” featuring the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.
The show, which centered around Baroque composers, was well received, and Marsalis, ever the jazz master, even graced audiences with a special encore performance of “Autumn Leaves,” complete with harpsichord accompaniment.
“Well-Tempered” began with a mesmerizing orchestral performance of Bach’s Air on a G String, from Suite #3 in D Major. The was followed by the first of Marsalis’ solo showpieces: Tomasa Albioni’s Concerto A Cinque for Oboe, Strings and Continuo in C Major. But the true highlight of the evening was Marsalis’ trio perfomance of Francois Couperin’s Concerts Royaux: Premier Concert. This piece, which Marsalis performed accompanied by the harpsichord and violin, transported one to the French court of Louis XV with grace and precision while still evoking a sense of carefree improvisation.
Marsalis’s solos were perfectly executed as he alternated between accompaniments with the Chamber Orchestra ensemble and performing within a trio. He is a pleasure to watch as he feels the music, nodding his head in tune and smiling admiringly at the music all around him. Even with classical pieces, one gets the sense that he is experiencing the music on a different plane, one where rhythm reigns.
Overall, it was an astounding performance that combined the elegance of the classical with the recognizable charm of the jazz soundscape.