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Labels with local ties get Grammy nods

Publication: Durham Herald-Sun
Author: Cliff Bellamy
Date: December 1, 2011

DURHAM – Two locally connected recording labels – Merge Records and saxophonist Branford Marsalis’ label Marsalis Music – were nominated for Grammy Awards on Wednesday.

The Montreal-based band Arcade Fire earned Durham-based Merge Records its first Grammy Award when they took home Album of the Year in February for “The Suburbs.” Another Arcade Fire recording project earned the label a nomination this week. The Merge recording “The Suburbs – Deluxe Edition (Scenes from the Suburbs),” with art direction by Vincent Morissett, was nominated for Best Recording Package.

Saxophonist Miguel Zenón has been nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for “Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook,” on the Marsalis Music label. Zenón was also nominated in 2009 for Best Improvised Jazz Solo and Best Latin Jazz Album for his Marsalis Music recording “Esta Plena.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 2nd, 2011 — 10:13am

The too-short, yawn-inducing list of 2012 jazz Grammy nominees

Publication: Ottawa Citizen Jazzblog
Author: Peter Hum
Date: December 1, 2011

I am glad to see that Gerald Clayton, Miguel Zenón and John Hollenbeck were nominated — New blood! New blood! — but otherwise, it seems to me that in previous years, the people who chose the jazz nominees were more astute and progressive.

To read Peter Hum’s commentary regarding the Jazz Grammy nominations and see a full list of the nominations, visit his blog post here.

Submitted by Courtney on December 2nd, 2011 — 10:30am

Miguel Zenón @ The Edye Theatre 11.19.11

Publication: JazzWeekly.com
Author: George Harris
Date: November 20, 2011

It’s not often that you hear something that is not only new, but also  enjoyable. Alto saxist Miguel Zenón seems to have found a new path for jazz by melding traditional music from his native Puerto Rico with John Coltrane-esque jazz with his team of Luis Perdomo, Hans Glawischnig/b and Henry Cole/dr . Together, they created music that combined the  romanticism of latin melodies with the adventureness of modern jazz, satisfying both soul and mind in a way rarely achieved these days.  Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 2nd, 2011 — 10:33am

Grammys: Jazz nominees mix fresh faces with familiar reliables

Publication: Los Angeles Times Blog
Author: Chris Barton
Date: November 30, 2011

Realistically, an Esperanza Spalding-type surprise just doesn’t happen every day. A year removed from jazz barging into the major categories with Spalding’s rewarding best new artist win, Grammy voters opted for a return to normalcy with their jazz nominations announced Wednesday. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 1st, 2011 — 11:38am

The sounds of Christmas are upon us!

Publication: Louisiana Weekly
Author: Geraldine Wyckoff
Date: November 21, 2011

Harry Connick, Jr. Trio
The Happy Elf
(Marsalis Music)

With a cover decked out with all the bells and whistles of a holiday album directed at children – an illustration of a plump Santa Claus, a Christmas tree and smiling elves – one would naturally presume that Harry Connick, Jr.’s CD, The Happy Elf , was filled with music for toddlers. However, that’s not quite the case. The release does stand as a companion disc to the noted pianist and vocalist’s picture book for kids of the same name. Musically, however, it goes beyond hum along tunes for the younger set.

The album begins with Connick narrating The Happy Elf book, that has also been produced as a stage musical. The tale of the kind elf who was just crazy about Christmas could act as a heart-warming, Yuletide bedtime story for children. The first cut, also dubbed “The Happy Elf,” follows through in spirit with its joyful and danceable demeanor. Connick and his trio with part-time New Orleans resident, bassist Neal Caine and long-time drummer Arthur Latin, playfully sleigh ride into a jazz mode that can engage parents and children alike. Importantly, it, like the following, easy-going “Santarrific” doesn’t play down to the kids. Rather the tunes act as an introduction to jazz and blues that could, hopefully, lead to a love of the music. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 30th, 2011 — 10:30am

Harry Connick Jr. gets his Christmas groove on

Publication: Indianapolis Star
Author: Jay Harvey
Date: November 28, 2011

Critics tend to turn sour (I know: How can anyone tell, right?) when they  reread news releases just before setting down their own thoughts on one or another Cultural Product. Videlicet: I wish Marsalis Music hadn’t called Harry Connick Jr.’s “Music from The Happy Elf” CD “ a “new instrumental holiday classic. ” True, Connick’s story about Eubie has a back story that indicates success, including use of the material to inspire a Christmas TV special and a stage musical. Now it’s a picture book, too, and the CD opens with Connick doing a spirited “read-along” version of “The Happy Elf” before he and his trio settle into a lively program of the tunes Connick created for the show.

But I come to praise this CD, not to bury it. The music on its own makes for a great introduction to jazz for young people — as catchy as Vince Guaraldi’s fabled “Charlie Brown Christmas” tunes, but a bit rangier in the improvised portions. Connick has come up with something infectious rhythmically or melodically in these dozen tunes. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 29th, 2011 — 05:57pm

Kickin' out yuletide jams: Holiday CDs range from the wonderful to the bizarre

Publication: The Detroit News
Authors: Susan Whitall & Adam Graham
Date: November 29, 2011

“The Happy Elf,” Harry Connick Jr. Trio (Marsalis Music)

This companion disc to Connick’s picture book of the same name published by Harper Collins (not to mention, the “Happy Elf” musical) is a winsome album of piano trio jazz with the add-on of a spoken-word track. On it, Connick (the father of three) tells the story of the “happy elf” who figures out how to help Bluesville, a town full of children who are all too naughty for presents from Santa. Accompanied by bassist Neal Caine and drummer Arthur Latin, Connick doesn’t sing, but plays in the Nat King Cole trio style, with an extra emphasis on bluesy improvisation on the 11 songs he wrote. His piano work is particularly evocative on the melancholy “Christmas Day.” GRADE: A- Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 29th, 2011 — 12:57pm

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