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News posts that reference press.

Marsalis and TSO play it hot, and straight

Publication: The Globe and Mail
Author: Robert Everett-Green
Date: November 24, 2011

Toronto Symphony Orchestra

  • Branford Marsalis, saxophone
  • Andrey Boreyko, conductor
  • At Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Wednesday

The last wind instrument to become a permanent part of the standard orchestra was the clarinet, in the mid-1700s. Membership in the club had closed by the time the saxophone showed up a century later.

Various composers, impressed by the sax’s wide compass and range of tone, have brought it into the orchestra as a guest, often an exotic one. Just about every major composer working during the 1930s had a fling with the saxophone, which by then had developed a racy career as a jazz instrument.

On Wednesday, the TSO played two short alto sax concertos from that period, one with strings and relatively straight, the other with winds and flavoured with ragtime. The soloist was Branford Marsalis, a much celebrated jazz musician who over the past decade has built up his repertoire of sax concertos with orchestra.

Submitted by Courtney on November 28th, 2011 — 03:30pm

Classical music shakes its booty: Branford Marsalis at Roy Thomson Hall

Publication: The Toronto Star
Author: Peter Goddard
Date: November 23, 2011

The marriage of jazz and classical music has been as rocky as any Kim Kardashian romance, with often the same results: a bust-up that’s all noise.

So it was particularly heartening to see saxophonist Branford Marsalis, the Dr. Phil of musical matchmaking at Roy Thomson Hall on Wednesday night where music straight out of the Euro-classical tradition aimed to show it could shake some booty. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 28th, 2011 — 03:11pm

Harry Connick Jr. Trio "The Happy Elf"

Publication: BuffaloNews.com
Author: Jeff Simon
Date: November 20, 2011

Among the many things this disc isn’t are the following: 1) A children’s record, despite the original Connick story (published by HarperCollins) the pianist reads on its opening 10-minute cut and 2) A negligible throwaway in the blizzard of questionable “seasonal goods” right about now. While it presents trio variations on Connick’s music for his “Happy Elf” stage musical with bassist Neal Caine and drummer Arthur Latin, its pleasure is the pleasure of listening to some of Connick’s most clever and rhythmically winsome piano-playing on disc in quite a while. It is, in fact, the fourth in a series of Harry-and-piano that has so far appeared on the label of his old New Orleans friends Wynton and Branford Marsalis. Think of it, minus a semi-ignorable narrative, as a hugely welcome and entirely original disc of Connick piano jazz. Praise be to the holiday season for giving Harry “permission” to make it. Three stars out of four.

*Note from Marsalis Music: Wynton Marsalis is not involved with our label.

Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 22nd, 2011 — 03:24pm

The Marsalis Family's "Music Redeems" up for Best Traditional Jazz album!

Please visit the 2011 SoulTrain Awards page and vote for The Marsalis Family’s Music Redeems in the Best Traditional Jazz Category! Thanks for your support!

Submitted by Courtney on November 21st, 2011 — 12:14pm

16 Christmas Discs for the 2011 Holidays

Publication: Audiophile Audition
Author: John Henry
Date: November 16, 2011

Harry Connick, Jr. Trio – The Happy Elf – Marsalis Music   *****

(Harry Connick, Jr. – piano; Neal Caine – bass; Arthur Latin – drums)

Arriving just in the nick of time to get included herewith, this becomes a new holiday classic due mainly from it being entirely new tunes, with no hackneyed , artificially jazzed-up arrangements of familiar carols. It’s also a CD for holiday get-togethers that include young ones, because it opens with a ten-minute narration by Harry of his story of The Happy Elf.  It’s a companion CD to Harry’s children’s picture book of the same name, published by Harper Collins. Employing two mainstays from his big band, Connick does trio versions of some of the tunes he originally wrote for his stage musical The Happy Elf. They constitute a variety of new takes on the tunes, and I especially liked that they’re all instrumental—no vocals. The children’s story follows Eubie, who longs to be a part of Santa’s sleigh team, but he’s stuck with compiling the naughty-or-nice lists. But then one Christmas Eve he sees that the whole town of Bluesville has not a single person having been nice, and he’s off to Bluesville to turn a whole town of naughty children nice in a day.  Eubie’s story unfolds against a swinging background of the piano trio. The story has also inspired an animated Christmas TV special. A merry addition to the mostly Christmas dreck. Recorded at the studios of WGBH in Cambridge, where I once worked. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 21st, 2011 — 12:24pm

Saxophonist Miguel Zenón mines the Puerto Rican songbook

Publication: Los Angeles Times
Author: Chris Barton
Date: November 18, 2011

If there’s any way jazz can be compared to a fairground’s bumper cars, it’s that the excitement is in the collisions, those necessary (if far less violent) meetings between the music and an individual’s history, imagination and culture that create something new. This year jazz has been enjoying a particularly rewarding run of global collisions that have included the Middle Eastern explorations of trumpeter Amir ElSaffar, the Southern Asian influence in recent albums by Rudresh Mahanthappa and Rez Abbasi and fresh twists on Brazilian jazz in records by Anthony Wilson and Rob Mazurek’s Sao Paolo Underground.

An acclaimed saxophonist who has played with a variety of ensembles through the years as well as ongoing work as co-founder of the SFJAZZ Collective, Miguel Zenón has dedicated much of his career as a bandleader to exploring the intersection of jazz and the music of his native Puerto Rico. In 2009 Zenón earned critical raves and two Grammy nominations for “Esta Plena,” an album exploring a percussive side of Afro-Carribean folkloric tradition. For Zenón’s latest turn at musical cross-pollination, this year’s “Alma Adentro” turns its ear toward the Puerto Rican songwriters from Zenón’s childhood. (Zenón and his quartet perform at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on Saturday.)

I started thinking about the connection between the Great American Songbook and jazz music, how that basically fed the jazz repertoire for so long,” he said, speaking by phone before a performance in Oakland earlier this week. “I started thinking that maybe I could do the same thing and explore the Puerto Rican songbook and bring it into the jazz world, and at the same time introduce people to Puerto Rican composers who’ve meant so much to the development of music and culture there.”

Submitted by Courtney on November 21st, 2011 — 12:18pm

Miguel Zenón's unique Latin-jazz fusion

Publication: Sign On San Diego
Author: George Varga
Date: November 15, 2011

A member of the acclaimed SF Jazz Collective and the 2008 recipient of both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” San Juan-born saxophonist Miguel Zenón is blazing new trails. His rich fusion of jazz and such homegrown Puerto Rican styles as jibaro, plena and bomba is as ingenious as it infectious. Stepped in all of these musical traditions, he is able to dig deeper to make new connections without diluting any of the styles from which he draws. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 16th, 2011 — 11:56am

Miguel Zenón: Digging His Roots

Publication: JazzTimes
Author: Lee Mergner

During the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival, JazzTimes set up a make-shift video production studio backstage inside the old barracks of Fort Adams. During two afternoons in August, a succession of artists—including Hiromi, Esperanza Spalding, Ambrose Akinmusire, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Miguel Zenón, Steve Coleman and many others—came in to talk about the festival, jazz education and their own projects. We will be posting these interviews at jazztimes.com over the next few months. You can also see more of these video inteviews at the JazzTimes YouTube channel.

Since receiving a prestigious MacArthur fellowship (also known as the “genius grant”) in 2008, Miguel Zenón has been exploring his own musical roots and influences by delving into the traditional songs and forms of his native Puerto Rico. However, as he explained in this interview at the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival, he was already headed in that direction before given the support from the MacArthur grant. At his performance in Newport, Zenón featured the music from his latest album, Alma Adentro (Marsalis Music), featuring a large ensemble with arrangements by Guillermo Klein.

Backstage after the show, Zenón talked about that project and the impact the grant had on his own development as a composer and bandleader. He also discussed his early music education in Puerto Rico, as well as his schooling at Berklee and the Manhattan School.

Visit JazzTimes.com to watch Miguel’s interview. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 14th, 2011 — 04:02pm

Miguel Zenón weaves Puerto Rican roots into jazz

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle
Author: Lee Hildebrand
Date: November 13, 2011

Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón hadn’t heard any jazz while growing up in housing projects in San Juan, Puerto Rico, until, at age 15, a friend gave him a Charlie Parker tape. Now 34 and living in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, Zenón is one of the fastest rising names in jazz and this year placed third on his instrument in the DownBeat Critics Poll and eighth in the jazz magazine’s Readers Poll.

Leader of his own quartet and a member of the SFJazz Collective since its inception seven years ago, he also is on a mission to incorporate elements of Puerto Rican folkloric and popular music into jazz and to introduce American jazz to young people in his Caribbean homeland.

The recipient three years ago of a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship from which he receives allotments of $25,000 every three months, Zenón used the proceeds to launch Caravana Cultural. Since February, working in cooperation with the Puerto Rican nonprofit organization Revive la Música, he has performed three free jazz concerts in remote regions of the island using as sidemen top New York players such as trumpeter Avishi Cohen and pianist Gerald Clayton.

Submitted by Courtney on November 14th, 2011 — 12:26pm

“What It Means to Be Puerto Rican”: An Interview With Miguel Zenón

Publication: Washington City Paper
Author: Michael J. West
Date: November 9, 2011

No list of today’s major young jazz talents can exclude alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón embarked on his journey as a jazz musician at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, moved on to the Manhattan School of Music, and took the jazz world by storm. Before long he was receiving not only tremendous acclaim, but tremendous institutional support for his musical explorations of jazz and the various facets of his native Puerto Rican music—including a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship and, that same year, the prestigious MacArthur “Genius Grant.” His newest recording with his quartet, Alma Adentro (Marsalis Music), expands his scope from the folk traditions of Puerto Rico to its canon of popular songs. Ahead of the quartet’s performance tonight at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Zenón spoke with Arts Desk about his experiences with music in Puerto Rico and the States, and life as a MacArthur fellow.

Washington City Paper: Let’s talk about your explorations of Puerto Rican music. Is this a long-term project?

Miguel Zenón: Yeah, it’s long in the sense that I do it out of personal interest, and it evolved into the traditions of my country and the history and all that. But I have to say that the fact that I did a couple records on that subject wasn’t really planned that way. It’s kinda just been happening as I get more into it and find more things that I want to go deeper into. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 10th, 2011 — 11:06am