Conceptualized around the visionary paintings of Harlem-born artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988), saxophonist Branford Marsalis' Romare Bearden Revealed celebrates the obvious as well as the less tangible connections between the jazz Bearden loved and the artwork it inspired.
The trumpeter also keeps things bawdy with some brilliant plunger work on a live recording of Jelly Roll Morton's "Jungle Blues." Similarly, "B's Paris Blues" finds Branford turning his trademark soprano sax to the 1961 Bearden work Paris Blues, celebrating the beauty and ennui of American black musicians who expatriated to France for artistic and social freedom.
Johnson's "Carolina Shout." Perhaps most compelling, though, is guitarist Doug Wamble's solo turn on "Autumn Lamp." Inspired by Beardens' 1981 rural vision of a blues guitarist playing by himself under the glow of candle lamp, Wamble utilizes a resonator guitar with a slide, calling to mind Mississippi Fred McDowell's version of "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning" (perhaps Bearden's inspiration as well?).
From one great artist to another, this is an earthy and accessible homage.