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Miguel Zenón Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook

Publication: The Alibi
Author: Mel Minter

Date: September 22, 2011

 Though not yet 35 years old, saxophonist Miguel Zenón has already built an impressive, mature body of work that explores the music of his native Puerto Rico through the jazz lens. The latest in this growing oeuvre, Alma Adentro focuses on the Puerto Rican songbook, proffering a breathtaking homage to popular tunes from Tite Curet Alonso, Bobby Capó, Pedro Flores, Rafael Hernández and Sylvia Rexach. The absolute command and freedom of Zenón’s performances, and his perfectly articulated arrangements for his masterful quartet and a backing woodwind ensemble, deftly orchestrated by Guillermo Klein, capture the music’s lyrical urgency and supple romance.

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Submitted by Courtney on September 23rd, 2011 — 09:47am

Review: Branford Marsalis Quartet: tour-de-force blend of order and mayhem

September 21, 2011
MercuryNews.com
By Richard Scheinin

During Tuesday night’s opening set by the Branford Marsalis Quartet at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, I sat in the front row, directly in front of the drums. This meant experiencing, for the next 75 minutes, the unremitting physical force and inventive flow of 20-year-old drummer Justin Faulkner, whose playing sums up the ethos of this great band: order and mayhem, glued together as one. The order inside the mayhem; the mayhem inside the order.

Branford MarsalisThe quartet — which you can see through Sunday at Yoshi’s-San Francisco — played two sold-out shows at the Kuumbwa, the little Santa Cruz club, where Marsalis’s group always plays as if it’s just won the lottery. This was its first visit to Santa Cruz in over two years; the last time through, Faulkner, straight out of a high school band program in Philadelphia, had just joined the group.

On “Teo,” by Thelonious Monk, Faulkner began Tuesday with the easy bounce-and-snap swing of Monk’s old drummers; someone like Frankie Dunlop. Then he threw in a New Orleans second-line flourish and moved toward a swirling Elvin Jones space, which is where this group lands a lot.

And now Marsalis entered with his solo on tenor saxophone, which he built patiently, even meticulously: Long, long notes, giving way to exhilarating bebop lines, tonguing just about every note, like old-time Sonny Rollins. Then he let loose, escalating into a post-Coltrane blast furnace — and in the middle of this holy-roller mayhem, he and pianist Joey Calderazzo glanced at one another and simultaneously played two or three bars of melody from Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird Suite.”

It was surreal, as if they had stepped into an adjoining room. Were they sharing a private joke? Showing off? Or maybe their brains are just linked after 13 years of sharing the bandstand.

A
few observations: Marsalis has a massive sound; he doesn’t need to get anywhere close to a microphone to be heard. Also, he makes the saxophone sound like a woodwind; there’s this rich woodsy-ness to his tone. His delivery is urgent and beautiful. Ditto for bassist Eric Revis. Every note that he plays is a gem — fat tone, perfect pulse, like Jimmy Garrison. He never overplays; he seems to arrive at each note inevitably, as if it is the result of long, silent consideration.
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GMU Presents An Evening With Branford Marsalis

Publication: Fairfax News
Date: September 21, 2011

Known for his unmatched technique, forward-thinking approach and incredible versatility, three-time Grammy-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis is a member of the first family of jazz and has performed with many 20th century jazz giants, including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Sonny Rollins. George Mason University’s Center for the Arts presents “An Evening with Branford Marsalis,” featuring a program of original compositions and modern jazz standards, at the Concert Hall on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011 at 8 p.m.

Rounding out the Branford Marsalis Quartet are pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 21st, 2011 — 10:21am

Dolls, books give glimpse of historic New Orleans

Publication: Associated Press
Author: Chevel Johnson 
Date: September 19, 2011

New Orleans’ rich melting-pot history has always been a big draw for authors.

But telling it through the eyes of two antebellum 9-year-old girls — one black, one white — offers unusual perspectives on life’s challenges in the mid-19th century.

American Girl Brand LLC, a subsidiary of toy giant Mattel Inc., usually introduces its dolls (and the book characters based on them) one at a time.

In August, the company launched two — called Cecile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner — along with a six-book series set in New Orleans that details their fictional lives, friendship, and tests they and family members face in dealing with the spread of yellow fever in 1853. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 20th, 2011 — 02:54pm

Jazz on WGBH with Eric Jackson: Spotlight on Branford Marsalis

Check out Eric Jackson’s Jazz on WGBH episode highlighting the music of Branford Marsalis. Listen here. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 16th, 2011 — 12:09pm

Miguel Zenón: Alma Adentro Featured on WBGO's The Checkout

Miguel Zenón and host Josh Jackson talk about Miguel’s latest project on The Checkout. Miguel’ discusses his personal connections to the songs featured on the album and the histories of the original composers. Check out the interview here. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 16th, 2011 — 10:34am

Branford Marsalis: The Problem With Jazz

Publication: The Seattle Weekly
As Told By: Chris Kornelis
Date: September 14, 2011

The following is edited from an interview with jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis, whose latest album, Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, is a collaboration with pianist Joey Calderazzo.

You put on old records and they always sound better. Why are they better? I started listening to a lot of classical music, and that really solidified the idea that the most important and the strongest element of music is the melodic content. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 14th, 2011 — 11:48am

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, a Dream Come True

Publication: The Washington Informer
Date: September 8, 2011

On August 25, as the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approached, one of the most positive responses to the catastrophe that devastated New Orleans was unveiled – The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. Located at 1901 Bartholomew Street in the heart of the Musicians’ Village in the Upper Ninth Ward, and named for one of the city’s most influential pianists, educators and living legends, the Center will serve as a state of the art facility for the preservation and ongoing development of New Orleans music and culture.

Like Musicians’ Village, the innovative New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity project that has provided 72 single-family homes and 10 elder-friendly duplex units for the city’s displaced musicians, the Ellis Marsalis Center was the brainchild of one of Ellis’s sons, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and one of his most celebrated pupils, singer/pianist/actor Harry Connick, Jr. “Jazz is a tremendous part of the city’s tradition,” Connick explains, “and after the storm we had to do more than just hope that the tradition would continue.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 8th, 2011 — 02:27pm

Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo - Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (Marsalis Music, 2011)

Publication: Music and More
Author: Tim Niland
Date: September 7, 2011

Tenor and soprano saxophonist Branford Marsalis pares back to a saxophone and piano duet format, joined by longtime colleague Joey Calderazzo for a subtle ballad oriented program. Slow themes abound, but on the two pieces where Marsalis switches to tenor saxophone, the opener “One Way” and “Endymion” his unique muscularity on the bigger horn comes through. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 8th, 2011 — 10:40am

Fall jazz: Branford Marsalis, SFJAZZ, Monterey Jazz Fest highlight stellar season

Publication: Mercury News
Author: Richard Scheinin
Date: August 24, 2011

Branford Marsalis: The great saxophonist’s quartet has my vote as the cockiest, and maybe the best, working band in jazz. It pours through Coltrane burnouts, hard swing, elegiac ballads (a la Keith Jarrett in the ’70s) or takes you back to jazz’s early days with W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues.” Every time it takes the stage, some kind of gleeful workout is bound to happen, some sort of display of macho virtuosity that turns into spiritual exploration. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 7th, 2011 — 02:21pm