By Mark Stryker
Detroit Free Press (MCT)
There's a lot to admire about "Songs of Mirth and Melancholy" (3 stars, Marsalis Music), the rewarding new duet album by saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo. Calderazzo has been a mainstay of Marsalis' quartet since 1998, and the rapport the two have built comes into bold relief without bass and drums in the mix.
At its best, the music strikes a compelling balance between attention to detail and relaxed improvisation. Primarily a collection of uniquely tailored ballads, the album creates a mood of weighty contemplation, introspective but never hermetic. Marsalis and Calderazzo put their chips on melodic integrity and development, staying in the moment and patiently drawing out the formal and emotional character of the material.