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CT.com Interview: Saxophonist Branford Marsalis

Publication: CT.com
Author: Michael Hamad
Date: February 4, 2013

In his 52 short years on this planet, what hasn’t saxophonist Branford Marsalis done? Composing Broadway scores and movie soundtracks; recording with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey and his brother Wynton; running the Tonight Show band, when Jay Leno took over from Johnny Carson; jamming with the Grateful Dead (check out the exquisite “Eyes of the World” on Without a Net) and subsequently venturing out into the jam-band world with Buckshot LeFonque; teaching college; winning Grammys; starting a record label; bringing aid to his native New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; leading his own quartet for more than a decade. (Whew.)

Sometime around 1996, Marsalis decided to make his quartet — longtime members Joey Calderazzo on piano and Eric Revis on bass, and relative newcomer, Justin Faulkner, on drums — his primary focus. Last year they released the aptly titled Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, which was named Best of 2012 Instrumental Jazz Album of the Year by Apple’s iTunes. He’ll bringing the powerful, musically telepathic group to UConn’s Jorgensen Center for a single night on Feb. 7.

Marsalis spoke to CT.com by phone about his new recording and the highlights of a long career in music.

Q: You’ve been with your quartet for more than a decade (drummer Justin Faulker came on board more recently). When rock groups are together for a long time, nobody bats an eyelash, but when it happens in the jazz world, it’s perceived as more of a rarity. What’s the secret behind keeping a band together?

A: Rock groups stay together for a variety of reasons, mostly that it’s a lot of money to walk away from if you become one of those groups. With a jazz group, all of the musicians have to see potential for growth. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 5th, 2013 — 11:03am

Jazz Master Branford Marsalis Serves Up Variety at CSUN Valley Arts Center

Publication: Northridge Patch
Author: Barry Garron
Date: February 3, 2013

When he recorded his most recent CD, Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, Branford Marsalis said he just wanted to play the best of what’s out there, no matter who wrote it. He took the same approach to the selections performed during An Evening with Branford Marsalis on Saturday night at CSUN’s Valley Performing Arts Center.

Though his quartet played only seven numbers in the hour and three quarters they held the stage, their choices revealed the breadth of talent encompassed by these extraordinary jazz musicians.  New songs, old songs, songs by masters, songs of their own composition—nothing was off-limits for saxophonist Marsalis, a three-time Grammy winner, and the three other members of his quartet: Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner on drums. Read more »

Branford Marsalis and Quartet to Showcase FOUR MFS PLAYIN' TUNES at Jorgensen, 2/7

Publication: BroadwayWorldMusic.com
Date: January 23, 2013

rammy-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis has played with everyone from Art Blakey and Miles Davis to Sting and the Grateful Dead, and he’s led The Tonight Show Band. Now this NEA Jazz Master and his top-notch jazz quartet will stop at Jorgensen on Feb. 7, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in “An Evening with Branford Marsalis.”

The quartet’s new album Four MFs Playin’ Tunes recently won the iTunes Best Instrumental Jazz Album of 2012. In this new work, Marsalis and his tight-knit quartet, enhanced anew by young drummer Justin Faulkner, play selflessly in service of each song. Compositions include two original works by each of the veterans in the group - Marsalis, pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis - a cover of Thelonious Monk’s classic “Teo” and the 1930 standard, “My Ideal.”

The deft way the recording flows puts Marsalis in mind of the one-day wonders of Blue Note-style recording sessions. But more time was taken here. Marsalis says, “I feel blessed to have marvelously talented musicians in this band that can play very difficult tunes and hook them up and make it sound easy. This recording is a perfect example. They always hook it up.” Read more »

New Orleans is a dream fulfilled for Claudia Acuña

Publication: The Advocate
Author: Allison Taylor
Date: January 22, 2013

Singer/songwriter Claudia Acuña has been performing well over 20 years, starting out in her native Chile. It was there her desire to become a performer developed and was nurtured by those around her.

“I’ve never wanted to do anything else,” Acuña said. “I was always a part of a choir or tried to join any artistic group at school. So many people helped me find opportunities to just sing.”

Acuña admits to hearing artists like Erroll Garner and being intrigued by the music even before she knew that the music was called jazz.

“I was attracted to jazz because of the freedom of it,” Acuña explained. “It’s the only form of music where so many influences combine to make one sound. It’s like a cake.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 23rd, 2013 — 10:10am

Branford Marsalis headlines Haiti jazz festival

Publication: The Miami Herald
Author: Jacqueline Charles
Date: January 17, 2013

Like New Orleans, Haiti has experienced great suffering - poverty, disease, natural disaster.

So perhaps it’s only fitting that a week after an unlucky Haiti marked the third anniversary of its cataclysmic Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, it is one of New Orleans’ great musical sons - jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis - who will open this year’s Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival.

Being from New Orleans, Haiti has a kind of mythic status there,” said Marsalis, 52, who performs Friday in Jacmel at the Tourism Port and again Saturday in Port-au-Prince at a former sugar cane plantation-turned outdoor concert venue, Parc Historique de la Canne a Sucre.

We have a lot of similar traditions; relationships with Vodou, with music and with rhythm that’s very, very different from all of the states in the United States,” he said. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 18th, 2013 — 11:47am

NYC’s hot Winter Jazzfest

Publication: Jazz Beyond Jazz
Author: Howard Mandel
Date: January 14, 2013

The second weekend of January is now the fullest on NYC’s jazz calendar, with continuation of the high energy, two-night showcase Winter Jazzfest in multiple Greenwich Village venues, and aspirational ensembles elsewhere playing (they hope) for booking agents and curators attending the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters convention. Having responsibilities of my own Friday and Saturday after the Jazz Connect conference (held in conjunction with APAP), I had to limit my actual listening — but took in the start of pianist Monty Alexander’s Harlem-Kingston Express plus tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life, the Revive Big Band, singer Claudia Acuña and solo saxophonist Colin Stetson as well as vocalist Macy Gray with saxman David Murray’s Big Band at Iridium in midtown.



Ms. Acuña, who preceded Stetson at the Bitter End — best known as a folkie hangout — is a beguiling Chilean-born- and-raised vocalist and songwriter. She sings mostly in Spanish, which I don’t speak, but her voice is warm, her delivery is artful and confident, her stage manner casually dramatic and very inviting. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 15th, 2013 — 10:42am

Winter Jazzfest: A New-World Meshing of Pop and Folk

Publication: New York Times ArtsBeat
Author: Nate Chinen
Date: January 12, 2013

Day 2 of Winter Jazzfest began, for me, with Claudia Acuña at the Bitter End, reharmonizing “You Are My Sunshine” for a standing-room crowd. I feel as if I’m still digesting last night’s offerings, including a brilliantly indeterminate set by the bassist Eric Revis, the pianist Kris Davis and the drummer Andrew Cyrille; and a midnight set by Nasheet Waits’s Equality, featuring the pianist Vijay Iyer. I tumbled into bed this morning at 3:30, and spent most of the day looking forward to more of the same.

Ms. Acuña’s set, or what I heard of it, was propulsive and polished, a new-world amalgam of pop harmony and folk rhythm. The strongest creative force in the band was the guitarist Mike Moreno, who fashioned a spectacularly fluent solo over a Gary McFarland tune. But there was a general cohesion among the band that resonated clearly with the crowd.

Submitted by Courtney on January 14th, 2013 — 11:14am

iTunes Best of 2012

We are so pleased to announce that iTunes picked the Branford Marsalis Quartet’s Four MFs Playin’ Tunes as the Best Instrumental Jazz Album of 2012! Find Four MFs and other iTunes Best of 2012 picks here.

Submitted by Courtney on December 17th, 2012 — 04:21pm

Branford Marsalis: Confident MF Playin’ Tunes

Publication: All About Jazz
Author: R.J. DeLuke
Date: December 10, 2012

Musicians evolve, and so do bands, if they’re allowed to stay together long enough to develop their musical relationships—that certain chemistry. Such is the case with Branford Marsalis, the outstanding saxophonist who has been through so much in his storied career. It’s also the case with his band, which he has kept together, with few personnel changes, for more than a decade. They are a tight unit that continues to ripen. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 10th, 2012 — 11:07am

Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis lead tribute to the late Bob French

Publication: The Times-Picayune
Author: Keith Spera
Date: December 5, 2012

Among other, sometimes less flattering designations, Bob French was considered the unofficial mayor of the Musicians’ Village. In November, he also became the first of its residents to die.

On the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 4, Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis and their manager, Ann Marie Wilkins, the trio who championed the construction of the Musicians’ Village after Hurricane Katrina, hosted a private memorial concert for French, the longtime leader and drummer of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band and an especially colorful WWOZ-FM deejay.

Over the decades, French mentored scores of young musicians, including Connick and Marsalis. After their success and fame had far surpassed that of their mentor, they returned the favor. Read more »