press

News posts that reference press.

Two formidable, famous-name saxophonists

Publication: IndyStar.com
Author: Jay Harvey
Date: July 9, 2012

Branford Marsalis and Ravi Coltrane both have new CDs out. With the oldest Marsalis brother, you have to get past the flippant false modesty of the title of this quartet disc: “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes” (Marsalis Music). With Ravi, the remarkably independent son of the most revered post-bop saxophonist, you aren’t asked to react to any display of attitude in order to focus on the music (“Spirit Fiction,” Blue Note).

To take up the Marsalis quartet first, rarely will you encounter such fervent rapport that seems so open-hearted to different kinds of expression. There’s propulsive updated bop to get things rolling (“The Mighty Sword”), close-grained, witty tributes (Monk in “Teo,” with Marsalis doing Charlie Rouse, Sonny Rollins’ prismatic way with standards in “My Ideal” ), poised, haunting ballads (“Maestra” and “As Summer Into Autumn Slips”) and exuberant, fecund virtuosity (“Whiplash” and the Ornettish “Endymion”).

Longtime pianist colleague Joey Calderazzo helps keep the lyricism intact; the love of tunes underlies everything the two kindred spirits play. Eric Revis is an adept, slightly self-effacing bassist, but it’s no doubt the better part of valor not to crowd the Joey-Branford duopoly. Youngster Justin Faulkner on drums is imaginative for such a powerhouse; his churning solo on “Whiplash” is among the disc’s highlights. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on July 20th, 2012 — 12:39pm

Record Store Day Specials and Some Asian Vibes

Publication: New York Times
Author: Nate Chinen
Date: April 27, 2012

Branford Marsalis Quartet
Contrarianism suits the saxophonist Branford Marsalis, though probably not as much as he likes to think. The title of his new album, “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes,” hurls a rejoinder to the rarefactions he sees elsewhere in jazz. He’s overstating the point, but maybe that’s the motivation he needed. Anyway, the album is a knockout: hard nosed and hyperacute, tradition minded but modern, defined by the high-wire grace of his working band.

The tunes — mostly by Mr. Marsalis and two of his band mates, the pianist Joey Calderazzo and the bassist Eric Revis — fall in line with the group’s longstanding house style, either ruminative and shadowy (“Maestra”) or intrepid and swinging (“Whiplash”). And the evident commitment in the playing, including that of the fearless young drummer Justin Faulkner, gives the material a strong sense of lift.

For now the album is available only on Marsalis Music as a deluxe double LP: released last week for Record Store Day, it will be available on CD and digital formats on Aug. 7.


For Nate’s other Record Store Day picks, visit the full article here. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on July 18th, 2012 — 03:33pm

CD: Branford Marsalis

Publication: Rifftides
Author: Doug Ramsey
Date: July 15, 2012

The Marsalis quartet achieves openness without abandoning harmonic guidelines, hipness without complex chord permutations. A saxophone soloist who manages to meld aggressiveness and wryness, Marsalis is at his peak here. The delight that he, pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Reavis and young drummer Justin Faulkner find in supporting and surprising one another is likely to also affect the listener. The tunes are by members of the band except for Thelonious Monk’s “Teo” and Richard Whiting’s “My Ideal,” the latter with a tenor solo that combines tenderness and wit. A highlight: Marsalis’s “Treat it Gentle,” recalling Sidney Bechet’s passion on soprano, but not his wide vibrato. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on July 16th, 2012 — 10:31am

World Saxophone Congress preview: Sax maniacs by the sea

Publication: The Scotsman
Author: Jim Gilchrist
Date: July 5, 2012

WITH almost 200 world premieres, the 16th World Saxophone Congress next week in St Andrews promises a wealth of innovation and entertainment

ADOLPHE Sax could never have guessed just what he was unleashing when he patented a design for a curiously-shaped reed instrument in 1846, that his invention would power the music of such diverse creative spirits as Maurice Ravel and John Coltrane; likewise the douce Fife town of St Andrews probably has little inkling of what will hit it next week when some 800 musicians converge on it from around the globe for the 16th World Saxophone Congress.

The ancient stones of the East Neuk metropolis will reverberate to the unbridled sounds of innumerable reeds as the six-day event hosts scores of concerts, recitals, lectures and workshops – including some 200 world premieres – in venues ranging from St Andrews University’s 1,000-seat Younger Hall to the venerable undercroft of its department of medieval history. Part of the 600th anniversary celebrations of Scotland’s oldest university, the event ranges through classical, jazz, contemporary and even folk genres.

“It’s massive,” says Richard Ingham, the event’s organiser and musician-in-residence at the university. “We’ve been working on it since we won the bid to host it in Bangkok three years ago and it’s a great thrill to be bringing it here, with such a cornucopia of concerts and recitals every day.

“I want to show saxophonists from across the world what Scotland and the UK has to offer, and also I want people from the UK to see and hear what other players from all over the world are doing. There’s some amazing stuff going on out there.”

High-profile guests include the renowned American player Branford Marsalis, who will premiere a new concerto for saxophone by Andy Scott with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the opening gala concert on 10 July. Read more »

Jazzfest Review: Marsalis and Calderazzo walk a musical high wire without a net

Publication: Ottawa Citizen
Author: Doug Fischer
Date: June 26, 2012

REVIEW: Branford Marsalis & Joey Calderazzo Duo
NAC Studio
Reviewed Tuesday, June 26

In these penny-pinching times, a cynic might be tempted to say the recent popularity of the jazz duo is simply the result of programmers finding ways to save money. Two musicians come cheaper than a quintet or, heaven forbid, a big band.

Ah, but true or not, the observation misses an essential point: the duo is not only good value for the bean-counters, it’s probably the leanest way to get at the core of jazz.

If jazz at its best is the in-the-moment interplay between musicians, then what’s more basic, more intimate, than an unencumbered encounter between two players at the top of their game — two guys like saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo?

The pair have played together since Calderazzo replaced the late Kenny Kirkland in Marsalis’s powerhouse quartet in 1998. But it’s only been for the past few years than they have also performed as the seamlessly intuitive duo that played two shows at the Ottawa jazz festival Tuesday night.

Their kind of familiarity can lead in two directions: playing what’s comfortable, or taking advantage of the freedom that comes from trusting each other when walking out on a musical high wire without a net.

Happily, Marsalis and Calderazzo have chosen the latter course. Read more »

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis to open festival

Publication: WinonaDailyNews.com
Author: Terry Rindfleisch
Date: June 24, 2012

World-class jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis embarks on a new journey in the world of classical music at the 2012 Minnesota Beethoven Festival.

Marsalis, a three-time Grammy winner who has his own jazz quartet, is no stranger to classical music and is a frequent soloist with major symphony orchestras.

But when he opens the Beethoven festival next Sunday, the 51-year-old will perform his first classical music recital since high school.

“This recital is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” Marsalis said in a recent telephone interview. “I don’t play classical music as much as I would like, but the more I play, the better I get. It is the most solid music I play.”

For the recital, Marsalis is collaborating with pianist Ned Kirk, a Saint Mary’s University music professor and artistic/managing director of the Beethoven festival.

“He is an amazing musician and collaborating with him has been a joy,” Kirk said. “He is the first artist who has treated me like a partner, with a lot of give and take.”

Kirk has rehearsed with Marsalis in California, North Carolina and New Orleans in preparing for the recital. It was Kirk who suggested they stage a classical music recital together after Marsalis and a Brazilian ensemble performed a special concert in October 2008 as part of the Beethoven Festival.

“He was very excited about such a recital because it was new to him, and it has been an amazing experience,” Kirk said.

Marsalis will play works for alto and soprano sax by six composers, including Beethoven and Samuel Barber.

He has played classical music professionally for 10 years. He performs about 10 classical music concerts a year and he made his debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra two years ago.

Submitted by Courtney on June 25th, 2012 — 09:36am

Branford Marsalis talks about his famous family, stardom and playing with Westchester Philharmonic

Publication: LoHud.com
Author: Latoya West
Date: May 17, 2012

Branford Marsalis has accomplished great things since he first picked up the saxophone. He has played with some of the world’s greatest musicians, led the “Tonight Show” band, won Grammy Awards and composed music for Broadway shows.

Now, one of the shining stars of “jazz’s first family,” is coming to Westchester to play with the Westchester Philharmonic as they close out their 2011-2012 season at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College this weekend.

“I have a couple pieces I am going to play,” he tells us. “I’m going to learn a lot and I’m going to have a good time.”

Before you go to the show, here are six things you might not have known about the man behind the saxophone.

1. In Branford’s opinion, he didn’t really grow up in a musical family.
Sure, his older brother Wynton Marsalis is a superstar in the world of jazz. And yes, music seems to be in his family’s DNA. But Marsalis says he didn’t grow up in a “musical family” as most people would assume. “That’s the myth and you can’t stop the myth sometimes,” he says. “I grew up in a regular family with too many kids arguing and fighting, driving mom crazy…with fraternal football games that often turned bloody. Our memories as kids weren’t about us sitting around practicing all day. I mean Wynton practiced a lot, starting when he was 13. But that was his choice.”

2. Contrary to media reports, there was never any sibling rivalry between him and Wynton.
“As far as music goes, we don’t play the same instrument, so what would be the reason for the rivalry?” Marsalis says. But that doesn’t mean the brothers never had tension as they defined their individual career paths. “ Wynton was upset when I left his band to join Sting’s band and then the media started talking about a rivalry,” Marsalis recalls. “But it was less of a rivalry and more of a profound ideological disagreement, which over time resolved itself as those things often do among family members.”

3. He wanted to be a history teacher.
“I was going to school majoring in history. I wanted to be a school teacher,” Marsalis says. But he credits his father for talking him into pursuing his music dream at age 19. “He said when you’re married with kids, you don’t want to be sitting around wondering if you could have done it,” Marsalis recalls. “So I moved to Boston for 1 1/2 years and went to the Berklee School of Music and then I went to New York after that. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on May 18th, 2012 — 03:22pm

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Cabaret Jazz room at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, March 31

Publication: Seven
Author: Steve Bornfeld
Date: April 5, 2012

Three settings: Soothe your soul. Warm your soul. Scorch your soul. However they fiddle with the thermostat, the Branford Marsalis Quartet keeps the musical temperature exquisitely cool.

Following the SFJAZZ Collective’s listless opening of the Cabaret Jazz room, the new venue got the true launch it deserves courtesy of the Marsalis collective. Had The Smith Center not been constructed of such sturdy stuff, this foursome—sax man Marsalis, pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and superhuman drummer Justin Faulkner—would have blown the roof off the place and sent it hurtling into Symphony Park.

Facing a packed, rapt house, the ensemble put the crowd into orbit via “The Mighty Sword,” a seven-minute rocket ride of propulsive riffs with soaring solos from the ensemble’s new album, Four MFs Playin’ Tunes. Butter could melt inside the bell of Marsalis’ horn, warmth commingling with virtuosity to produce his singular, signature sound.

“We’re going to do this song by Barry Manilow,” Marsalis deadpanned to audience giggles—yes, he was joshing—but there was nothing “Copacabana”-like about this night and this place, which echoed more with the vibe of the legendary Birdland.

Screams of appreciation and standing ovations accompanied not just songs but individual solos. Especially dazzling was Faulkner, who just might be three drummers in one, his solo so powerful and exhilarating that you’d wonder if the late Buddy Rich had shucked off his immortal coil and returned in Faulkner’s body. Rub drumsticks together this vigorously and you make fire. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on May 1st, 2012 — 12:08pm

He’s jazzed by sound of Puerto Rico

Publication: The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Kevin Joy
Date: April 18, 2012

New York musician Miguel Zenón has filtered the music of his Puerto Rican homeland through a jazz lens.

For his latest album, Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook, the 35-year-old alto saxophonist began with familiar music composed in the 1920s to the 1970s — cuts not quite anthemic but much ingrained in his native land.

“They’re a part of the culture in Puerto Rico,” said Zenón, who has a bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston and a master’s from Manhattan School of Music in New York.

Though long enamored of jazz, he found that highlighting his roots held even more allure.

“As much as I like . . . (American standards), I didn’t feel as personally connected.”

Such a fusion has paid off for Zenón, whose Alma Adentro was deemed the best jazz album of 2011 by National Public Radio.

It came on the heels of a 2008 MacArthur Fellowship — the “genius grant” that provides $500,000 apiece to cutting-edge individuals in science and the arts.

Such credit “does make people notice you a little more,” he said.

More exposure will occur on Thursday, when Zenón performs with a quartet at the Wexner Center for the Arts as part of the 35th annual Ohio State University Jazz Festival.

He talked this week from New Orleans.

Q: With no prior warning about being given the MacArthur grant, how did you react to the initial phone call?

A: It was a surprise for me — very pleasant. In terms of what that’s done for me and my life and everything, aside from the obvious financial connotation, it definitely opened a lot of doors and brought a little more attention to what we’re doing.

It’s given me a lot of freedom with my time — to play with the people I want to play with, financing my own recordings and projects.

Q: How did you select and interpret fare for your latest album?

A: The approach in general was just to think about these songs the same way you’d think about the great American songbook and how that’s become an essential part of the jazz lexicon.

A lot of the . . . ( Adentro selections) were written at the same time, when all this Tin Pan Alley stuff was happening. I felt I had a personal connection with these songs I’ve been hearing since I was a kid — through my parents or just on the radio or playing in school.

Q: Did any one song have a particularly strong pull?

A: Definitely the title track. The composer, Sylvia Rexach — she’s a favorite of my mother.
My mom, I remember, . . . was always singing her songs in the house. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on April 19th, 2012 — 10:44am

Saxophonist Miguel Zenón in peak form

Publication: Chicago Tribune
Author: Howard Reich
Date: April 13, 2012

The ingeniously paced, handsomely played set that alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón offered Thursday night at the Jazz Showcase very nearly summed up the man’s appeal in small-group settings.

For if Zenón had affirmed has ability to hold his own in an orchestral setting last February, when he fronted the Chicago Jazz Ensemble at the Harris Theater, this time he led his quartet in expansive performances of both new and familiar repertoire. Virtually every piece in his first set emerged a model of pacing and architectural clarity, themes appearing and re-appearing at carefully chosen moments, instruments entering and exiting the ensemble texture for maximum dramatic effect. Yet, somehow, the music sounded free and spontaneous while conveying unmistakable structure and form.

Not surprisingly, the heart of the set was built on scores from Zenón’s most recent recording, “Alma Adentro,” in which Zenón re-imagined classic popular songs of his Puerto Rican heritage through the prism of jazz improvisation. As strong as this music sounded on disc, however, in some ways it proved still more effective in this performance, thanks largely to the bloom of Zenón’s tone in full-throated passages and the delicacy of his sound elsewhere. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on April 17th, 2012 — 10:08am