Branford Marsalis

'An Evening with Branford Marsalis’ at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts

Publication: DC Metro Theater Arts
Author: Marlene Hall
Date: April 13, 2014

Seeing one of Jazz’ masters like Branford Marsalis perform is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I had the honor of watching jazz great Marsalis at George Mason Performing Arts Center Saturday night. Marsalis and his quartet played mostly songs from their new album Four MFs Playin’ Tunes.

Marsalis is a renowned saxophonist and composer. Marsalis is a three time Grammy winner, a 2010 Tony nominee and 2010 Drama Desk Award winner for the music for the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Fences. He has released more than 20 recordings, including his most recent, 2012’s Four MFs Playin’ Tunes.

I overheard an audience member comment how Marsalis has incredible breath control and my professional musician friend, said, “His sound is pure.” We got to watch and hear a genius play that night.

The musicians were: Joey Calderazzo on piano; Eric Revis on bass; Justin Faulkner on drums, and Mr. Marsalis on saxophone. Calderazzo was seated on the left and had his back to the audience, so we could see his fancy finger work. Marsalis was front and center and the bass player behind him. On the right was drummer Faulkner, who shared the spotlight with all the musicians. It was nice to see he wasn’t hidden in the back like many drummers I have seen in other concerts. Read more »

From jazz to classical, Branford Marsalis stays busy

Publication: The Advocate
Author: John Wirt
Date: March 27, 2014

Jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis just returned to the U.S. from London. He spent challenging days there studying Baroque ornamentation with flutist Stephen Preston. This week he’s playing jazz gigs in Puerto Rico, Florida and Indiana. Next week he’s in Baton Rouge and Florida again. The following week he goes to Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Marsalis, the eldest son of New Orleans’ modern-jazz pianist, composer and educator Ellis Marsalis, moves between playing jazz with his Branford Marsalis Quartet and performing classical concertos with symphony orchestras. He also composes music for the Broadway stage and teaches.

Before his two Wednesday shows at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge, Marsalis will join his brothers Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason, their father, Ellis, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in concert Saturday at Butler University in Indianapolis.

The Marsalis family and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra being the great jazz musicians they are, only a minimum of musical preparation is necessary for the Indianapolis concert.

A Marsalis family concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for instance, which can be heard in the 2009 album, “Music Redeems,” came together at 2 a.m. the night before the event.

“Wynton and I both flew straight into D.C., from Europe that day,” Marsalis said. “We know what we’re doing.”

An accomplished musician at 53, the Durham, N.C.-based Marsalis nevertheless makes time to practice hours a day, every day. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on March 28th, 2014 — 01:18pm

The Marsalis Family to appear with the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra at Clowes Hall

Publication: The Indianapolis Recorder
Date: March 20, 2014

A once-in-a-lifetime event will take place at Clowes Memorial Hall on March 29, at 8 p.m. as the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performs with the Marsalis Family.

Ticket prices start at $50. Tickets are on sale now at the Clowes Hall Box Office, ticketmaster.com, or by calling 800-982-2787.

Called ‘the first family of jazz,” The Marsalis Family continues to be the driving force behind jazz education and preservation. In this one-night-only performance, Ellis, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason Marsalis will take the stage together and in solo performances with the famed Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Hailed as “an extraordinarily versatile orchestra” by The Los Angeles Times, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra is composed of 15 of jazz music’s leading soloists under the leadership of musical director Wynton Marsalis. Drawing from an extensive repertoire that includes original compositions by Marsalis, Ted Nash, and other members of the orchestra, as well as the masterworks of Ellington, Mingus, Coltrane, and other great jazz composers, concerts by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra are internationally critically acclaimed. “The finest big band in the world today,” said the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph.

The Marsalis Family story starts in New Orleans, with the birth of Ellis Marsalis Jr. in 1934. Although the city was noted for Dixieland and rhythm-and-blues, Ellis was more interested in the bebop sounds coming from Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Read more »

Eric Revis – In Memory of Things Yet Seen (2014)

Publication: Something Else!
Author: S. Victor Aaron
Date: March 17, 2014

The first-call acoustic bass player best known in five words or less as “Branford Marsalis’ bassist since forever” is preparing to release his own led-date In Memory of Things Yet Seen (March 25, 2014, Clean Feed Records). For his fifth one, Revis ditches the piano, doubles up on the saxes and often steps outside. Think Dave Holland’s Conference of the Birds quartet with Anthony Braxton and Sam Rivers blowing the reeds together.

Revis’ Braxton and Rivers super duo comes in the form of Bill McHenry (tenor) and Darius Jones (alto), perfect choices because they can get chatty like mockingbirds on the free-improv “Hits,” ignite in tandem on the barely-contained Sun Ra number “The Shadow World” and then turn right around and play lyrically around a memorable Revis bass riff on a tender respite from the madness, “Hold My Snow Cone.”

For the drums, Revis calls upon Chad Taylor, forming the same formidable rhythm section that fueled recent records by reedman Avram Fefer, like the Eliyahu album we surveyed a few years ago. Together, these two lay out all the parameters for a song, leaving McHenry/Jones frontline free to articulate harmony and blow their brains outs. They form a runaway train on “Hits,” devise a catchy circular bass/drums figure for the basis of the song “Son Seals” and form the core of “A Lesson Earned” with an irresistible, circular bass riff welded to a rock beat.

Branford himself shows up on a couple of tunes, swelling the ranks of sax players to three unbelievably talented masters. “Unknown” has a theme that’s avant-bop, not too unlike Tristano or Dolphy. After the head, Marsalis peels off to deliver a swerving, swinging solo that traditionally minded, and Jones follows with smooth alto flourishes that finish every statement of his with a rough note. “FreeB” is the rare free improv that Branford participates in, but within that cacophony of moderate wailing, he can be heard making cries of tradition amidst the atonal wails. And, it fits. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on March 18th, 2014 — 02:48pm

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis join forces to raise funds for the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music

Publication: Nola.com
Author: Erika Goldring
Date: February 5, 2014

It was a daytime luncheon and concert, unusual for the Civic Theatre, but the crowds were just as enthused to be there. It was a benefit for the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, located in the Musicians’ Village in the city’s Upper Ninth Ward. The Village was founded by native New Orleanians Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, and constructed by Habitat for Humanity, as affordable housing for musicians and to create a sense of shared community.

So whom else would the Center ask, other than Connick and Marsalis, to help raise funds! The concert, on Tuesday (Feb. 4), not only featured performances from Connick — now on TV every Wednesday and Thursday nights for “American Idol” — as well as from Branford Marsalis (his father is Ellis Marsalis), Stephen Walker, Dewey Sampson, Andrew Baham and Ricky Sebastian and students from the Center, among others. Read more »

Harry Connick, Jr., Branford Marsalis showcase young musicians

Publication: WWLTV.com
Reporter: Bill Capo
Date: February 4, 2014

NEW ORLEANS — Performing with music legends Harry Connick, Junior and Branford Marsalis was unforgettable for two young musicians.

Two years after opening, the Ellis Marsalis Center in the Habitat For Humanity Musicians Village is providing music education to 200 students, ages 7 to 18.

I think it has exceeded what we thought,” said Harry Connick, Jr. “I mean when Branford and I thought about this, it was just kind of a vague concept.”

The idea that you have 7- and 8-year-old kids playing clarinet and playing violin and playing piano and playing in orchestras,” added Branford Marsalis.

I think it is kind of beyond people’s expectations, at least that’s the way parents communicate to me,” said Ellis Marsalis Center Executive Director Michele Jean-Pierre.

Connick and Branford Marsalis remain committed to New Orleans. They’re also looking at the future, especially where music is concerned.

If they don’t support the center, they basically are not supporting the future generations of musicians that will make New Orleans what it is,” Connick said. Read more »

Reviews: Marsalis and Vandermark unleash storms of sound

Chicago Tribune
Author: Howard Reich
Date: February 2, 2014

Two leonine saxophonists of very different sorts made major statements over the weekend, each reaffirming his stature as soloist and bandleader.

Though Branford Marsalis and Ken Vandermark occupy distinct locales on the jazz spectrum, listeners with varying tastes easily could admire the work of both men. For Marsalis and Vandermark proved that clarity of vision and ferocity of expression make a deep impact on an audience, regardless of the musical style or idiom at play. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 3rd, 2014 — 10:59am

Among Friends – Branford Marsalis with The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra Live In Perth 27.9.13

Publication: www.INSTRUMENTAL.com
Date: September 29, 2013

There some names in jazz that carry with them innumerable expectations and assumptions. Unsurprisingly, most of them turn out to be wrong because we have come to believe the media streams before the evidence of our own eyes and ears. Branford Marsalis is one of those names, and his appearances with The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO) will set the record straight for those smart enough or lucky enough to have had a ticket.

Most of the press hubris surrounding the family name quickly descends into a chaotic dissection of the jazz body politic and the fomenting of non-existent controversy. Fortunately, Branford Marsalis has friends and fans on his side who only want to hear him play and this is where he found himself last Friday night at Perth Concert Hall.

Better still The Music of Wayne Shorter provided exactly the sort of platform for the scope of his artistry while the SNJO directed by saxophonist and founder Tommy Smith, offered a superbly realized context for Shorter’s demanding music. Not content with that, they presented challenges to themselves and pearls to the audience with gymnastic arrangements provided by the likes of Manu Pekar, Mike Gibbs, Geoffrey Keezer and newcomer Jacob Mann.

Marsalis is famous for disregarding musical boundaries but is especially associated with classical settings of tremendously mellifluous and lyrically flowing melody. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on October 28th, 2013 — 10:40am

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.”