Marsalis Music

Branford & Joey

Watch Branford and Joey talk about their album, Songs Of Mirth and Melancholy, on our “Videos” page.

Ellis Marsalis at the piano

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music

The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music is now open in New Orleans!

Branford Marsalis & Joey Calderazzo

Read Rafi Zabor’s liner notes from the duo release to learn more about the album

Classical or Jazz? Branford Marsalis bridges both worlds of music in Allentown Symphony Orchestra ‘Opening Gala’

Publication: Bethlehem Press
Author: Paul Willistein
Date: October 14, 2016

The 2016-17 season-opening Allentown Symphony Orchestra classical music concerts will be long-remembered for a Lehigh Valley world premiere by a well-known musician, band leader and composer.

Branford Marsalis and the Allentown Symphony perform Villa-Lobos’ “Fantasia for Saxophone and Orchestra” in an updated transcription of the work.

Marsalis headlines the “Opening Gala” for the Allentown Symphony Orchestra ”Classical Series,” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15 and 3 p.m. Oct. 16, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

The program, conducted by Diane Wittry, Allentown Symphony Orchestra Music Director, in addition to Marsalis performing Villa-Lobos’ “Fantasia for Saxophone and Orchestra” and Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras” No. 5 Aria (Cantilena) and Dansa (Martelo), includes Villa-Lobos’ Sinfonietta No. 1 (“A memoria de Mozart”), and Beethoven Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”).

The Villa-Lobos’ “Fantasia for Saxophone and Orchestra” work on the Allentown Symphony concert program has a special place in the repertoire of Marsalis, who grew up in a household filled with music in Breaux Bridge, La. His mother, Dolores, is a jazz singer and substitute teacher. His father, Ellis, is a pianist and music professor. His brothers Jason, Wynton, Ellis III and Delfeayo are also jazz musicians. The New York Times described the Marsalis family as “jazz’s most storied living dynasty.”

“The piece [‘Fantasia for Saxophone and Orchestra’] is on the first classical record I ever got. I played the piece and liked it and didn’t like it,” Marsalis says during a phone interview the day before he turned 56 on Aug. 26.

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Submitted by Courtney on October 17th, 2016 — 10:30am

Branford Marsalis, coming to Allentown, swings from jazz to classical

Publication: The Morning Call
Author: Steve Siegal
Date: October 8, 2016

When Branford Marsalis performed Villa Lobos’ Fantasia for Saxophone and Orchestra for his first time back in 2008, you’d think it would have been a cakewalk for the multiple Grammy-winning, Tony-nominated, NEA Jazz Master saxophonist.

After all, Marsalis had worked with a roster of who’s who in the music world — he toured with Herbie Hancock, recorded with Miles Davis and performed with Sting, Phil Collins, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins and a host of other icons.

But classical music proved a formidable nut to crack.

Nine years ago I felt like I was treading in the Pacific Ocean after the boat had sunk and the water was just above my nose,” says Marsalis, 56, speaking from his home in Durham, N.C. “When you’re a defensive player not trying to make mistakes, it means you’re not making music. It took a long time for my brain to start to slow down — only then can you make musical decisions not based on survival.”

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Submitted by Courtney on October 17th, 2016 — 10:10am

Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling: Upward Spiral review – master saxophonist meets great jazz vocalist

Publication: The Guardian
Author: John Fordham
Date: August 4, 2016

Branford Marsalis has mastered most tricks of the sax-player’s trade – traditional song-playing lyricism, an advanced post-Coltrane technique (lately coupled with a classical one), and long experience of playing with singers, notably Sting in the 90s. All that colours this memorable meeting between Marsalis’ quartet and Kurt Elling, one of the best jazz vocalists on the planet. Elling mixes his signature rhythmic hipness with (slightly stagey) jive-talk on the Porgy and Bess classic There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York, lets loose his Mark Murphy-inspired scatting ingenuity on Rollins’ Doxy, and illuminates, with unselfconscious poignancy, the downbeat intensity of Sting’s Practical Arrangement. 

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Submitted by Courtney on August 5th, 2016 — 10:06am