Branford Marsalis, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (Columbia Records)

This is the second Branford Marsalis recording to feature him in a trio setting (the first was Trio Jeepy). The absence of a piano seems to have presented Marsalis, bassist Bob Hurst and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts with greater harmonic challenges. Hurst’s playing really stands out throughout the album, especially in the closing composition, his own “Beat’s Remark.” Watts has an exciting duet with Marsalis at the beginning of “Citizen Tain.”

Marsalis’ brother Wynton makes a guest appearance on the bluesy “Cain and Abel.” The interplay between the two brothers on this cut is a textbook example for pure listening. However, the high point of the album is Marsalis’ composition, “Dewey Baby,” which features a tenor battle between Marsalis and Courtney Pine. Pine and Marsalis engage in exchanges reminiscent of John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders in the ’60s.