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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 — 02:20pm

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 — 12:25pm

Branford Marsalis Waxes Philosophical

Publication: Washington Informer
Author: Stacy M. Brown
Date: February 13, 2013

Exuding the class often associated with jazz, a member of an esteemed family waxes philosophical about music, Hollywood and growing up in a family of accomplished musicians.

Grammy award winner Branford Marsalis intends to mesmerize the audience Friday evening when he and his quartet perform before jazz aficionados, longtime fans and newcomers to the genre.

Marsalis said there’s a uniqueness about jazz musicians, largely because of the laid back style of the music and the perceived sophistication that it takes to create jazz.

There are a lot of musicians interested in jazz because of the intellectual component. But, a lot of guys also play jazz because that’s all they know how to play,” said Marsalis, who is touring the country with his quartet to bolster his latest CD, “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes,” which is currently available at Marsalis’ website, www.branfordmarsalis.com and iTunes.com. The CD has already been named Apple iTunes Instrumental Jazz Album of the Year. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 19th, 2013 — 06:18pm

‘An Evening with Branford Marsalis’ at Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

Publication: DCMetroTheaterArts.com
Author: Tiffany Draut
Date: February 16, 2013

Five Stars
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is known for its quality performances, and the audience is always more than appreciative. But the February 15, 2013 concert, An Evening with Branford Marsalis, had a level of energy and excitement not often seen at the Center.

Introduced by Susie Farr, the quartet sauntered onstage as if they were showing up to an informal jam session—a fun, relaxed tone that continued throughout the evening, and allowed the audience to relax and truly get excited about the music. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 19th, 2013 — 06:18pm

Sax great Branford Marsalis says jazz magic comes from group interplay, not solos

Publication: Hampton Daily Press
Author: Sam McDonald
Date: February 15, 2013

In years past, sax man Branford Marsalis backed a rock star named Sting and added musical punch to Jay Leno’s late-night talk show.

These days, though, he’s working for himself. What’s he up to? He’s playing undiluted, unbridled jazz.

His new album, featuring the no-nonsense title of “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes,” features a hot, swinging quartet playing jazz in the classic fashion. In this case, though, that means fewer showboating solos and more group interplay.

“The tune is more important than any individual solo or any idea of genius or innovation, all these false choices that I hear in the jazz world,” Marsalis told National Public Radio last year. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 19th, 2013 — 04:29pm

That Marsalis Magic — Branford’s That Is

Publication: WBUR.org
Author: Claire Dickson
Date: February 7, 2013

It’s so tempting to get nostalgic for the golden age of jazz. Who wouldn’t want to go back in time and spend an evening with one of the greats? Charlie Parker, for example, or Miles Davis, or John Coltrane.

But greatness isn’t all in the past. Future generations, I’m sure, will think the same thoughts about Branford Marsalis.

Don’t take my word for it. From Feb. 8 to 10, Scullers Jazz Club will be presenting “An Evening with Branford Marsalis.” Marsalis will be playing with his quartet (Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass, and Justin Faulkner on drums), who recently released the CD “Four MF’s Playin Tunes.” They are a loyal group of extremely talented musicians and have something all jazz ensembles strive for — an “implicit trust” as Revis describes it. In their hands, a staple of good jazz is realized and explored in expert, satisfying ways. The artists make that sometimes elusive but all important dialogue between instruments seem effortless. They have a conversation when they play, bouncing musical ideas around, immediately responding to each other, building art in the moment. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 7th, 2013 — 04:33pm

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