Branford Marsalis Quartet, The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (Okeh/Sony Masterworks)

The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul opens with a sense of playfulness and a lyrical yet chaotic atmosphere, on “Dance of the Evil Toys,” a tune written by the Branford Marsalis Quartet’s bassist Eric Revis. It’s easy to envision that it’s Marsalis and his tenor saxophone , which have initially escaped from the toy chest, along with the rest of his talented band .

marsalis-secret-between-the-shadow-896x900_1The quietude of pianist Joey Calderazzo’s “Conversations Among the Ruins” follows, providing an unexpected yet lovely contrast, provided by Calderazzo’s delicately thoughtful touch. The song pairs well tonally and emotionally with the warmth of Marsalis’ soprano sax.

Marsalis takes pen in hand for “Life Filtering from the Water Flowers,” which finds the saxophonist calling out for the others to gather. At first they softly appear, and become increasingly invigorated, until finally Marsalis just stands up and blows—yeah! Now it’s time to dance and spin with the splash of drummer Justin Faulkner’s cymbals.

For some plain fun, the quartet covers pianist Keith Jarrett’s lively “The Windup.” It’s a good choice for this group that knows how to swing, and how to enjoy. Calderazzo and Faulkner respectively throw in some classic New Orleans style piano licks and back-beating drums, both of which offer a new perspective on the tune. As for Marsalis, he gets in some funky honkin’.

The Branford Marsalis Quartet’s The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul is a superb album that stands proudly alongside the saxophonist’s last killer studio release, Four MFs Playin’ Tunes.