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Doug Collette's Take Five

Publication: Glide Magazine
Author: Doug Collette
Date: December 2, 2013

The Branford Marsalis Quartet/Four MF’s Playin’  Tunes (Marsalis Music): Alternately sultry and scorching, this album belies the casual informality of its title. No doubt inspired by both their extended tenure together and the challenging, memorable original material supplied by pianist Joey Calderazzo, BMQ explore the rhythm and melody of tunes without losing their inner pulse or fundamental motif and, in doing so, the musicians maintain their individual personalities even as they forge a collective persona as the group.

Eric Revis/City of Asylum (Clean Feed): Establishing an intense state of collective concentration with the downbeat that begins the first track, it’s simple to see how Eric Revis has remained a stalwart within The Branford Marsalis Quintet for sixteen years. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 11th, 2013 — 10:51am

SNJO/Branford Marsalis Perth Concert Hall

Publication: Herald Scotland
Author: Rob Adams
Date: September 30, 2013

Wayne Shorter’s reputation as one of the jazz world’s most thoughtful and keenly melodic composers was fully endorsed by this warm, beautifully realised celebration of his art by what one of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s high-profile recent guests described as “one of the best jazz orchestras on the planet” in concert with another jazz luminary, saxophonist Branford Marsalis.

As featured soloist on Shorter’s twin specialisms of tenor and soprano saxophones, Marsalis never tried to emulate his hero, although Shorter’s liking for precise, gnomic phrases possibly influenced his thought processes occasionally. His playing was by turns direct and expansive and always brilliantly cogent and in the spirit of the composition, be it ever so slightly mysterious or downright amiable.

Submitted by Courtney on September 30th, 2013 — 09:58am

Branford Marsalis in Wayne’s world

Publication: The Scotsman
Author: Jim Gilchrist
Date: September 23, 2013

Shorter, 80 this year, has been a hugely influential figure during his various periods with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Miles Davis, jazz-rockers Weather Report and in his own Blue Note recordings. Marsalis, the 53-year-old scion of a famously musical family, has carved an international reputation of his own, as a powerful and independently-minded jazz player as well as a lyrical interpreter of classical music.

This will be Marsalis’s first collaboration with the SNJO, although he has known its director, fellow-saxophonist Tommy Smith, “forever”. When I ask if he’ll be avoiding slavish replication, he replies: “I’m completely into replicating it. I have the opposite view of most of my jazz colleagues… I don’t do any form of music as a 
vehicle to glorify myself per se.

“A lot of people might say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna do Wayne Shorter’s music, but I’m going to be me,’” Marsalis observes drily, citing “Daniel Day-Lewis’s excellent portrayal of Abe Lincoln. Some people go so far as to say it’s almost like he was the man himself. Really?

“As I know from studying drama, the idea is to capture the essence of a person, not every single one of their mannerisms. So when I play Shorter’s music, I’ll try to play the essence of it. I’ve spent so much time studying it that it’s virtually impossible for me not to have his influences coming to bear.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 23rd, 2013 — 08:13am

JazzTimes.com Exclusive: A Conversation with Terence Blanchard and Branford Marsalis

Publication: Jazztimes.com
Author: Jeff Tamarkin
Date: September 4, 2013

At a party in Istanbul late in April, during the International Jazz Week celebrations, JazzTimes found New Orleans trumpeter Terence Blanchard and saxophonist Branford Marsalis hanging out together in one of the many rooms of the host’s home. We asked them if they’d mind giving us a two-minute quote on the significance of the event and they did. And then they kept on talking—for another half hour. We had our handy digital recorder with us and let them go on, our reporter tossing in the occasional question but mostly just letting them riff. What follows is a verbatim transcript of their sometimes rambling, often hilarious, always astute conversation.

Why is International Jazz Day important?

Terence Blanchard: First of all, it’s amazing that there is such a thing as International Jazz Day. It means that, politically, the music has come a long way.

How do you feel about the event being held in a city such as Istanbul, which is not particularly known for its jazz?

Branford Marsalis: The whole thing about it is outreach. If you’re going to do this sort of thing, you bring it to places that have potential. Putting it in New York was kind of like, what’s the big whoop? Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 4th, 2013 — 02:00pm

Burlington Discover Jazz Fest Builds Upon Community

Publication: Downbeat.com
Author: Jon Ross
Date: July 3, 2013

Dynamic contrast, not needless velocity, grounded Marsalis’ quartet set on June 2, the closing concert of the first weekend. Marsalis, who had last been to the festival in 2009, turned in a wide-ranging and captivating set aided by his exceptional band, which includes drummer Justin Faulkner, an amazing talent who has come into his own as part of the group. Creating a complete ensemble sound and true improvisatory music is at the center of Marsalis’ aesthetic, and throughout the evening he let his bandmates improvise at length, stamping their own personal approach onto his tunes.

To read Jon Ross’ entire roundup of this year’s Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, check out Downbeat.com. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 8th, 2013 — 11:44am

Review: Rapturous Miguel Zenón performance at SFJazz

Publication: Mercury News
Author: Richard Scheinin
Date: June 1, 2013

When he is on his game — and he often is — alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón combines qualities of sheer romance, sanctified spirit and mathematical precision. In all of jazz, not too many players operate at his level. When his improvised solos really get moving, he rocks back on his heels and the notes just fly, like blizzards of diamonds. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on July 3rd, 2013 — 01:14pm

Branford Marsalis Talks Muffulettas, The Tonight Show, and Jazz

Publication: Maxim
Author: Alexa Lyons
Date: March 27, 2013

We caught up with renowned jazz musician Branford Marsalis just before his current tour (his first stop being at Jazz at Lincoln Center next week), and subjected him to the same 10 questions we always ask everyone.

How did you first get into music?
When you grow up in a city where society values music as much as they value football, it’s easy to make that choice.

How did you get into playing the saxophone?
I was playing clarinet and piano in an R&B band that was doing a weekly talent show. I was really sick of carrying around a 110 lb. clarinet at the age of 14, so I talked a good friend of mine into becoming the piano player so I could switch to saxophone.

Who were your musical inspirations growing up?
Everybody was my music inspiration growing up. Earth Wind & Fire, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Stevie Wonder. They wrote great tunes. Sometimes the songs that weren’t hits were better than the ones that were.

What about modern mainstream artists? Do any of them do it for you?
It serves a different purpose. The Beatles were the first band to make really, really large sums of money playing pop music, and that was in the late ‘60s. So when all of these bands were playing in the ‘50s, learning how to play music, The Beatles included, there was no template to say “we’re gonna go become stars and make piles of money.” They were doing it because they loved to do it. Now there is a template for using pop music as a vehicle to win the lotto. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on March 29th, 2013 — 10:42am

A conversation with Branford Marsalis

Publication: Cincinnati.com
Author: Janelle Gelfand
Date: March 14, 2013

Yesterday, I sat down for a talk with saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who was backstage at Music Hall, getting ready to go to CCM to meet with students. He’s in a residency this week, and his activities include school visits and a performance in Friday’s “Classical Roots” concert in Music Hall. He was intellectual, thoughtful and pleasant as he talked.

Here are a few things that were on his mind:

Surprises about Cincinnati: Snow in mid-March was surprising and depressing.  I watch enough baseball to know that in April, they’re out there freezing to death. It was 60 degrees when I left N. Carolina.

I was surprised when I first got here about what a prominent role the arts play. In so many cities, the arts are things they are trying to expunge and slash. We live in an era where there is no differentiation between arts and entertainment. To actually see a city that is focusing on the arts and making it a major role in the development of their children, it’s amazing.

The former Tonight Show bandleader’s  return last month to the show:  It was a homecoming. It’s been four or five years. In TV, five seconds is long. For me, I don’t gain anything by going back. People who stay up and watch TV at 12:30 a.m. don’t run out the next day and buy a CD.  For me, it was a personal homecoming to see Jay and see friends, and I have a lot of friends. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on March 18th, 2013 — 11:24am

Claudia Acuña

Publication: The New York City Jazz Record
Author: Suzanne Lorge
Date: March 2013 issue

Claudia Acuña moved to New York City from Santiago, Chile in 1995. She’d been working as a singer with some success in her home country, but American jazz is what captured her imagination. She worked her way up through the New York club scene during the late ‘90s, impressing many influential personalities in the jazz world with her compelling voice and rhythmic acuity. Her first record deal came from Verve in 1999 and other companies and producers soon followed - MAXJAZZ, ZoHo Music and Marsalis Music. Acuña spoke with The New York City Jazz Record about how she turned her career visions into reality.

The New York City Jazz Record: What were your early days as an unknown jazz singer in New York like, newly arrived from a foreign country?

Claudia Acuña: My first years here, I didn’t know at the time much English. I couldn’t afford to go to school and I didn’t know how to apply for scholarships. So I started going a lot to places like Smalls, where I met [pianist] Harry Whitaker, an amazing musician and composer. We used to get together almost every day at Smalls and we’d just do repertoire or arrangements. He was the first one to encourage me to arrange and write.

TNYCJR: Who were your other teachers and mentors?

CA: I participated in the workshops of Barry Harris and one of the first drummers I worked with, Jeff Ballard, used to teach me. Then I worked with people like Jason Lindner, who became a very strong collaborator. We co-wrote songs and worked consistently for almost 12 to 13 years. I also had the fortune [to meet] people with so much history, like Frank Hewitt, Jimmy Lovelace and Stanley Turrentine. And also to work with [bassist] Avishai Cohen and Avi Leibowitz and Pablo Ziegler - it just doesn’t stop. It’s a beautiful journey of having the honor and blessings and working with people who have been very patient and generous. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 25th, 2013 — 01:20pm

Branford Marsalis @ North Central College

Publication: Chicago Reader
Author: Peter Margasak
Date: February 24, 2013

For the past five years or so saxophonist Branford Marsalis has been calling out what he sees as the jazz world’s problem with insularity—for some players, he says, technical mastery and precision trump emotional expression and the urge to communicate or entertain. The tongue-in-cheek title of his latest album, Four MFs Playin’ Tunes (Marsalis Music), certainly reads as a salvo against eggheadedness—there are indeed four badass players on this record, and they’re killing it. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 25th, 2013 — 11:25am