Down Beat - 5/96, pp.51-523.5 Stars
- Good/Very Good - "...Ellis holds things together with a mature, neatly compressed style that fits within the mainstream tradition. Branford's most consistent characteristic is still his ability to try on a style, wear it convincingly and then shed it for the next thing...he has absorbed many of the qualities of Coltrane's playing..."
& Branford Marsalis.
Personnel: Ellis Marsalis (piano); Branford Marsalis (saxophone).
Recorded at Mastersound Astoria Studio A, Queens, New York on August 14 and September 11, 1995. Includes liner notes by Delfeayo Marsalis.
On Loved Ones, a set of music on which each of the 14 selections include a woman's name in its title, Ellis Marsalis takes five piano solos and has nine duets with his son Branford Marsalis. With the exception of a brief cooking rendition of "Liza," all of the performances are taken at a relaxed and sometimes quite slow tempo. Ellis Marsalis mostly lets the melodies breathe, infusing them with his own personality (the reworking of "Stella by Starlight" is quite intriguing) and often giving the songs somber interpretations. One wishes that there was more variations in tempos and moods. Branford Marsalis' appearances on soprano and tenor are always an asset, sometimes livening up the selections although mostly playing a subsidiary role to his father. The overall results are pleasing and thoughtful if not quite essential. ~ Scott Yanow