Branford Marsalis

Branford Marsalis

NEA Jazz Master, renowned Grammy Award®-winning saxophonist and Tony Award®nominee composer Branford Marsalis is one of the most revered instrumentalists of his time.  The three-time Grammy Award® winner has continued to exercise and expand his skills as an instrumentalist, a composer, and the head of Marsalis Music, the label he founded in 2002 that has allowed him to produce both his own projects and those of the jazz world’s most promising new and established artists.

Marsalis made his Broadway debut as the composer of original music for the Tony Award® winning Broadway revival of August Wilson’s play “Fences”.  Marsalis received a Tony nomination in the category of category of “Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre” and a 2010 Drama Desk Award® for “Outstanding Music in a Play” for his participation. Following these successes, Marsalis was asked to score the 2011 Broadway premiere of “The Mountaintop” starting Samuel Jackson and Angela Bassett.

Leader of one of the finest jazz Quartets today,and a frequent soloist with classical ensembles, Branford has become increasingly sought after as a featured soloist with such acclaimed orchestras as the Chicago, Detroit, Düsseldorf, and North Carolina Symphonies and the Boston Pops, with a growing repertoire that includes compositions by Copland, Debussy, Glazunov, Ibert, Mahler, Milhaud, Rorem and Vaughn Williams.  His propensity for innovative and forward-thinking compels him to seek new and challenging works by modern classical composers such as modern Scottish composer Sally Beamish who, after hearing Branford perform her composition “The Imagined Sound of Sun on Stone” at the 2006 North Sea Jazz Festival, was inspired to re-conceive a piece in progress, “Under the Wing of the Rock,” which he premiered as part of the Celtic Connections festival Beamish’s home country of Scotland in January 2009.

Making his first appearance with the New York Philharmonic in the summer of 2010, Marsalis was again invited to join them as soloist in their 2010-2011 concert series where he unequivocally demonstrated his versatility and prowess, bringing “a gracious poise and supple tone… and an insouciant swagger” (New York Times) to the repertoire.

In 2011, the National Endowment for the Arts conferred the prestigious Jazz Masters Fellowship on the Marsalis Family, a celebration and acknowledgement of a family described by the New York Times as “jazz’s most storied living dynasty”, who have made an indelible mark, collectively and individually, on the history and the future of jazz, America’s art form.

The Branford Marsalis Quartet explores the limits of musical adventure and band cohesiveness on Four MFs Playin’ Tunes available August 2012. This is the first recording of the tight-knit working band with an electrifying young drummer that joined the band three years ago and the results are a nimble and sparkling album, featuring ambitious original compositions by members of the band, a Thelonious Monk classic, and one standard dating to 1930.  The record blends the beautiful and subtle ballad sounds of 2004 release Eternal with the ecstatic contrasts of critically-acclaimed Braggtown.  In other words, this just might be the Branford Marsalis Quartet’s most sublime musical achievement yet.

Having gained initial acclaim through his work with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and his brother Wynton’s quintet in the early 1980s, Marsalis also performed and recorded with a who’s-who of jazz giants including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, and Sonny Rollins. He has also collaborated with such diverse artists as Sting, the Grateful Dead and Bruce Hornsby. His expansive interests are further reflected in his explorations in film, radio and television, including his role as the musical director of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for two years in the early 1990s.Marsalis has also acted in such popular movies such as Throw Mama from the Train and School Daze, provided music for Mo’ Better Blues and other films and hosted National Public Radio’s syndicated program Jazz Set.

Dedicated to changing the future of jazz in the classroom, Marsalis has shared his knowledge at such universities as Michigan State, San Francisco State, Stanford and North Carolina Central, with his full Quartet participating in an innovative extended residency at the NCCU campus. Beyond these efforts, he is also bringing a new approach to jazz education to student musicians and listeners in colleges and high schools through Marsalis Jams, an interactive program designed by Marsalis in which leading jazz ensembles present concert/jam sessions in mini-residencies.  Marsalis Jams has visited campuses in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Southwest, and later established an ongoing Marsalis Berklee Jams series with the Berklee College of Music.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans native joined forces with friend Harry Connick, Jr. to conceive the New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village, the newly constructed community in the city’s historic Upper Ninth Ward that provides new homes for displaced residents, including displaced musicians and their families.  At the heart of the Village stands the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, a magnificent facility with performance, instructional and practice spaces and a recording studio.

Whether on the stage, in the recording studio, in the classroom or in the community, Branford Marsalis embodies a commitment to musical excellence and a determination to keep music at the forefront.

All releases by Branford Marsalis

Four MFs Playin' Tunes
Branford Marsalis
2012

Branford Marsalis           saxophones
Joey Calderazzo             piano
Eric Revis                       bass
Justin Faulkner              drums
  

…the album is a knockout: hard nosed and hyperacute, tradition minded but modern, defined by the high-wire grace of his working band.” -Nate Chinen, New York Times
Read more »

Songs of Mirth and Melancholy
Branford Marsalis
2011

Branford Marsalis - Saxophones
Joey Calderazzo - Piano

Few contemporary pairings of saxophonist and pianist have been as inspired and productive as that of Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo.  Since replacing the late Kenny Kirkland in Marsalis’ quartet in 1998, Calderazzo has blended seamlessly into the uncompromising creative atmosphere of the ensemble and revealed new facets of his own conception, while Marsalis in turn has been inspired by the pianist’s challenging instrumental support and growing strength as a composer.  The relationship grows ever deeper, as documented on the new Marsalis Music CD Songs of Mirth and Melancholy. Read more »

Metamorphosen
Branford Marsalis
2009

Branford Marsalis - Saxophones
Joey Calderazzo - Piano
Eric Revis - Bass
Jeff “Tain” Watts - Drums

Time flies when you are making great music, as Branford Marsalis will be the first to attest. “I had no idea that two years had passed since we made our last album,” says the celebrated saxophonist, composer, producer and leader of the Branford Marsalis Quartet. The realization prompted a simple charge to Quartet members Joey Calderazzo, Eric Revis and Jeff “Tain”Watts. Read more »

Braggtown
Branford Marsalis
2006

Over the course of its life - and most particularly on its previous Marsalis Music scs - the Branford Marsalis Quartet has revealed an ability to express every kind of emotion, including an informed sense of history (on the label-launching Footsteps of Our Fathers in 2002 and the 2004 DVD Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ Live in Amsterdam), a sensitivity to other artistic disciplines (Romare Bearden Revealed from 2003) and a profound sense of intimacy that stretched the concept of a “ballads album” (2004’s Eternal). Read more »

Harry and Branford: A Duo Occasion
Branford Marsalis
2005

Pianist Harry Connick, Jr. and saxophonist Branford Marsalis are old friends who regularly
surprise the music world with their eclectic tastes and ability to deliver in a variety of idioms.
When the pair got together to record Occasion from Marsalis Music’s Connick on Piano
series, the setting may have been unexpected, but the results were typically challenging and
satisfying. After the positive response that Occasion received upon its spring 2005 release,
further encounters by the pair were inevitable. One particularly memorable set, from the Read more »

A Love Supreme Live In Amsterdam
Branford Marsalis
2004

For Marsalis Music’s second DVD release, label founder Branford Marsalis and his quartet have been captured in a complete performance of John Coltrane’s 1964 masterpiece A Love Supreme. This legendary suite, which tenor saxophonist Marsalis included on his label’s premier release, Footsteps of Our Fathers, was performed at Amsterdam’s Bimhuis during a European tour in March 2003. Read more »

Eternal
Branford Marsalis
2004

Many musicians create collections of ballads to serve as background listening in one-dimensional moods. Branford Marsalis is an uncommon musician, however and Eternal is no ordinary ballad album. The new CD, Branford’s third on his Marsalis Music label, will be released on September 14. Read more »

Romare Bearden Revealed
Branford Marsalis
2003

Branford Marsalis Quartet
Branford Marsalis  saxophones
Joey Calderazzo  piano
Eric Revis  bass
Jeff “Tain” Watts  drums

Special Guests
Harry Connick, Jrpiano
 Delfeayo Marsalis  trombone
Ellis Marsalis  piano
Jason Marsalis  drums
 Wynton Marsalis  trumpet
Reginald Veal  bass
Doug Wamble  guitar

Jazz musicians have frequently inspired and been inspired by visual artists; but the interchange has never been more direct and intense than on Romare Bearden Revealed. This disc, comprised entirely of newly recorded music, was produced by saxophonist Branford Marsalis in celebration of “The Art of Romare Bearden,” a major retrospective that opened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 2003. Read more »

Footsteps of Our Fathers
Branford Marsalis
2002

Branford Marsalis has never been one to stand still. The acclaimed saxophonist forges new paths with an assurance born of lifelong dedication and keenly honed knowledge, in the company of his stunning quartet. Together they have created Footsteps of Our Fathers, a joyous homage to jazz immortals living and dead who helped shape a value system that inspires not only Branford’s playing and writing, but also his determination to ensure that true creativity will be properly documented through his new Marsalis Music label. Read more »

Videos

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Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr. visit the New Orleans Musicians' Village
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Jabberwocky
Branford Marsalis
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Justin Faulkner
Branford Marsalis
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BMQ Metamorphosen
Branford Marsalis
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The Musicians' Village of New Orleans 2
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The Musicians' Village of New Orleans 1
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Miguel Zenón Podcast #1