Branford Marsalis

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 — 10:58am

Marsalis pitches it right for SNJO

Publication: Herald Scotland
Author: Rob Adams
Date: September 27, 2013

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra could hardly have wished for a better spokesman for its latest project than the man who will take the stage as featured soloist with the orchestra this weekend to pay tribute to the great saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter.

When asked what makes Shorter’s often enigmatic music attractive to him as a musician, Branford Marsalis gives a reply that will lend SNJO’s marketing effort any lift it might need.

Despite the harmonic complexity in his music, Shorter’s music has beautiful melodies you can follow as a casual listener,” he says, before adding the line that the floating audience needs to hear: “One doesn’t have to be a jazz fanatic to appreciate his music.”

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 — 09:13am

Branford Marsalis to guest on WUNC's The State of Things Friday, September 13

Branford was a guest on WUNC’s The State of Things radio program today, Friday, September 13. Host Frank Stasio’s Friday featured a roundtable discussion about the week’s news and a chat with Branford about his latest musical projects. You can listen to Branford’s segment archived on the WUNC website here.

Submitted by Courtney on September 13th, 2013 — 10:12am

Branford Marsalis: I’m a MF Musician!

Publication: iRockJazz.com
Author: Matthew Allen
Date: June 10, 2013

“I don’t use songs as a vehicle to glorify myself. I’m going to play whatever is required to make the song successful.” These are the words of Branford Marsalis. He’s a man that understands that it’s not all about him. Considering the big names he’s played with from Sting to Gang Starr, and all the hit songs he’s played on, it’s a wonder that he hasn’t gotten a big head, but the truth is that in the realm of jazz, it’s easy for some to get caught up in their own ideas and try to show them off to whomever is listening. Marsalis, however, takes no part in that line of thinking, and it’s a main reason why he’s been as successful as he has and why he continues to grow and educate others in that the music is more important than the musician.

Marsalis has long considered himself as a musician rather than as a saxophonist. In his mind, there is a big difference between the two in that a musician is someone that knows what it takes to make a song reach its highest potential, even if it means not playing as fast as one can or as many notes as is possible. “For the instrumentalist, the instrument is the center of their life; for a musician, the music they play is the center of their life,” Marsalis explains to iRockJazz. “In order to play music and communicate with people you have to have something in common with people. Most people don’t spend eight hours a day or four hours a day in a little cubicle working on complicated devices to play on stage. ”

Marsalis spent his childhood playing in funk bands as part of the horn section and grasped the concept of knowing his role. This method of thinking led him to lend his instrument saxophone to some of the biggest recordings of the late 21st century, such as Shanice’s pop smash “I Love Your Smile” and Public Enemy’s iconic anthem “Fight the Power.” “First of all, I don’t go up there playing jazz solos. I employ jazz sensibilities and it’s unique and it’s different in the way it sounds, but I understand my role in that situation.”

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 — 03:00pm

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 — 11:42am

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 — 12:24pm

Branford Marsalis joins CSO, community choir for Classical Roots

Publication: The Cincinnati Herald
Date: March 9, 2013

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s annual “Classical Roots” concert at Music Hall has garnered a reputation for the unique musical collaborations it generates. Each concert has featured stars of the opera, gospel and soul worlds, not to mention the 150-member Community Mass Choir that represents over 30 area churches. This year, the CSO adds another notable bond to the list in jazz legend Branford Marsalis. The threetime Grammy Award-winning saxophonist will be making a “cameo” appearance as soloist during the program at Music Hall Friday, March 15.

Exhibiting the diversity of the “Classical Roots” experience, Marsalis will be performing Jacques Ibert’s Concertino da camera for alto saxophone and orchestra, along with Billy Stayhorn’s “Take the ‘A’ Train.” As one of the most recognizable jazz standards, “Take the ‘A’ Train” became widely popular by Stayhorn’s long-time collaborator Duke Ellington. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on March 8th, 2013 — 11:50am

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