Three members of the extraordinary Marsalis family appeared Monday at the Beverly Theatre. One of them did not perform: forgivably, since he was a day short of 1 year old. Branford Marsalis carried his son on stage in order to explain his reluctance to play an encore: "I have to be up early to take him to Disneyland." He then completed a soprano-sax sign-off while cradling the baby under his arm.
Delfeayo Marsalis, Branford's 20-year-old brother, also took part in the final tune, playing well-intentioned bebop trombone in which his ideas kept chasing his chops, sometimes catching up.
The main event was Branford Marsalis' brand new quartet, making its second public appearance. From the opening piece, Herbie Hancock's "Number 72," it was clear that the 26-year-old saxophonist's integrity was in no way affected by his sojourn with Sting. He is still playing the same uncompromising music that marked his efforts with brother Wynton, and his versatility on tenor is more impressive now than ever.
At times, as in Wayne Shorter's "502 Blues," he suggested a latter-day Dexter Gordon, but on his own "Solstice" you could almost have closed your eyes and imagined yourself back with the John Coltrane Quartet, with Marsalis' pianist and drummer, Julian Joseph and Louis Nash, echoing McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones while the excellent bassist, Delbert Felix, kept subtle but solid time.