Branford Marsalis

Branford Marsalis @ Proctors, 2/3/12

Publication: Times Union Arts Talk Blog
Author: Michael Eck
Date: February 4, 2012

There was some big listening going on at Proctors Friday night, onstage and off.

Naturally, the audience, which had paid its money, had its ears on, but saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo had their giant ears on.

In the opening number of the duo’s opening set, Marsalis pushed his soprano against Calderazzo’s clouds of sound. The shape of the melody recalled Jewish themes. The harmony, spare and open, came from the American south. And the result sounded like heaven.

Marsalis and his longtime cohort released a duo album last year, and they culled tunes like the above, “La Valse Kendall,” and “The Bard Lachrymose” from that disc.

On the second number (“One Way”) Marsalis unleashed his robust tenor tone, and he continued to bounce back and forth between the two horns throughout the evening.

The gentlemen broke after 40 minutes and then brought out the full Marsalis Quartet for a 70-minute set that was often stunning, sometimes mesmerizing and always real.

Instantly the rhythm section was cracking, with bassist Eric Revis and drummer Jason Faulker working overtime behind Calderazzo’s now pumping piano. But this is a band that understands dynamics and together they rode the swells, heartbeats and car crashes that make up a great night of jazz. Marsalis’ sweet soprano release, for example, at the end of Revis’ “Maestra” was a breath of surrender. Wow. Read more »

Jazz review: Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo, musical soulmates, fill Spivey Hall with quiet beauty

Publication: ArtsCriticATL.com
Author: Jon Ross
Date: January 22, 2012

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis takes his time. During his Saturday concert with pianist Joey Calderazzo at Spivey Hall, Marsalis’ downshifted speed applied to both the programming — languid ballads peppered with occasional spunkier numbers — and his solos, careful expressions of storytelling that progressed not in a haste of notes but by deliberate syncopations and thoughtful sequences. Marsalis, of course, adapts his style on the soprano and tenor saxophones to each performance situation, and in this setting, Calderazzo’s light hand and rubato playing usually called for a restrained attack.

While Calderazzo played a walking bass line with his left hand most of the time, performing without a true time-keeping bass player allowed the duo to bleed tempo out of the tunes, to stop and start, and generally to stretch out musically. Such tunes as “La Valse Kendall” and “The Bard Lachrymose” set the tone for the evening, but hints of the pair’s raw power came forward in “One Way,” with a bubbly, R&B piano accompaniment under an aggressive saxophone melody. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 7th, 2012 — 12:21pm

Marsalis headlines CSO's next season

Publication: Cincinnati.com
Author: Janelle Gelfand
Date: January 27, 2012

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will continue its unprecedented artistic leadership arrangement in its 2012-13 season, in which a trio of musical giants will oversee its programs. Former Tonight Show bandleader Branford Marsalis and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon will join conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos as creative directors, each leading their own series.

And making her overdue Cincinnati debut, opera diva Renée Fleming will perform a gala opening concert to launch the season on Sept. 18.

Next season will be the orchestra’s last in Music Hall before the 138-year-old building undergoes a 16-month revitalization. In addition, the orchestra continues its search for a new music director. The 117th season will bring back music director laureate Paavo Järvi, who conducts in January for the first time since his tenure ended with a sold-out concert last May 2013.

Concertgoers can expect a starry lineup of guest artists, including renowned violinists Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham and Sarah Chang; pianists André Watts, Yefim Bronfman and Garrick Ohlsson and the virtuoso Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Profoundly deaf since age 12, she “hears” music with her whole body.

Legendary violinist Pinchas Zukerman will perform double duty, conducting and performing music by Beethoven, Schoenberg and Mendelssohn, when he returns in February 2013.

Among the premieres, the season has Higdon’s “All Things Majestic,” a multimedia performance accompanied by historic images of Music Hall and Cincinnati in celebration of the city’s 225th anniversary. Other premieres are a newly commissioned work by Chinese-American composer Zhou Tian, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 4, Strands, a CSO co-commission.

Spanish maestro Frühbeck will also conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, the Cincinnati Boychoir and the Women of the May Festival Chorus (Oct. 4 and 6).

Several maestros – and a maestra – who have made an impression have been invited back next season.

In the Masterworks Series, French conductor Louis Langrée will return for a pair of weekends in November. The first will include Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring rising talent Cédric Tiberghien, and Franck’s Symphony in D Minor. A second program will pair Schoenberg’s “A Survivor from Warsaw” with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, “Choral.”

Italian maestro Roberto Abbado will return in April to lead Strauss’ “Alpine” Symphony and Mozart’s glorious Piano Concerto No. 24 with pianist Lars Vogt (April 12-13 2013).

Marsalis, saxophonist, bandleader and member of the famed New Orleans family of jazz, will direct the five-concert Ascent Series. He will also appear as alto saxophone soloist in the “Tallahatchie Concerto” by Jacob Ter Veldhuis, a high-intensity piece to be conducted by Andrey Boreyko (Nov. 30-Dec. 1). Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 30th, 2012 — 11:35am

Interview with Grammy-winning musician Branford Marsalis

Publication: Nashville Examiner
Author: Sterling Whitaker
Date: January 19, 2012

To listen to Branford’s interview with Sterling Whitaker, please visit the Examiner’s site here.

Branford Marsalis is one of the most celebrated musicians of his generation. In a three-decade career the saxophonist has worked with artists as diverse as Sting, Miles Davis and Harry Connick Jr., led his own bands, served as the bandleader on The Tonight Show, appeared in films and as a soloist with symphonies internationally. He is a Grammy winner and Tony nominee, and also works tirelessly as a music educator.

  Marsalis’ most recent album is Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, a duo effort with pianist Joey Calderazzo. Marsalis will perform in concert on Friday, January 20 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, showcasing songs from that album as well as quartet material spanning the range of his career.

Branford Marsalis spoke to Examiner.com about Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, his compositional process, why live music should not require click tracks, the degrading of pop music and television, his stint on The Tonight Show and much more in the following exclusive interview. What follows are excerpts from a longer interview; to listen to the entire audio interview, click on the video at left.

Thanks to Branford Marsalis, and to Laurie Davis at the Nashville Symphony for arranging this interview.
 
Let’s talk about Songs of Mirth and Melancholy. Where does that title come from?

There’s a Keats poem, and the title was “Of Mirth and …” something. Mirth and madness or something like that. So the more I listened to the record, the more I realized that we had a couple of songs that were quite mirthful, and a number of songs that were quite lachrymose. So I sent out an email blast to my friends saying, “I’m trying to get the name of a title together, and it’s gonna be Songs of Mirth, and I need a word that rings with melancholy. And lachrymose doesn’t work, because ‘lachrymosity’ is just too long. That doesn’t work.”

So my wife writes back, “What about ‘melancholy?’” And I said, “Well, no, I don’t want melancholy, that’s why I said I need a word that kind of rhymes with melancholy.” And she goes, “Well, melancholy seems fine to me.” I said, “Yeah, okay, great.” And the more I thought about it and all these other suggestions came in, melancholy just kept kicking me in the teeth. So I said, “Well, all right … mirth and melancholy.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 20th, 2012 — 04:20pm

Life on Marsalis: Jazz great Branford Marsalis forges ahead in multiple fields

Publication: Nashville Scene
Author: Ron Wynn
Date: January 19, 2012

Saxophonist, composer and bandleader Branford Marsalis’ accomplishments surpass those of almost any other player in his generation. The oldest sibling from the famous New Orleans musical family that also includes Wynton, Jason, Delfeayo, Ellis III and pianist father Ellis, Branford’s shown a brilliance on tenor, soprano and alto that has earned him three Grammys and an NEA Jazz Masters award. He’s also been highly praised for impressive contributions to Broadway plays (a 2010 Drama Desk award and a 2010 Tony nomination for musical scores) and films, as well as extensive appearances with symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles, plus several  classical recording sessions.

But when he returns to the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall Friday night for a concert that will feature duo and quartet performances, he’ll be focusing on the fiery, thematically diverse and engaging jazz that’s been his hallmark over the lengthy history of his current ensemble. In fact, emotional satisfaction remains more a point of emphasis than technical proficiency, even though he’s certainly among the premier modern saxophone soloists. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 19th, 2012 — 03:16pm

Jazz giants to share the stage at Montgomery College in Rockville

Publication: Maryland Gazette.Com
Author: Cody Calamaio
Date: January 18, 2012

After more than a decade of working together in a quartet, Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis and his longtime piano player Joey Calderazzo are setting out on their own. The idea for a duo collaboration album was not born in the studio, but rather on a golf course. 

As amateur golf buffs, Marsalis and Calderazzo often would play together in celebrity tournaments. Sometimes, the organizers would ask the pair to perform something, but Marsalis would beg off with the excuse that there was no acoustic piano on the course.

“One year they invited us and there was a damn piano,” Marsalis recalls. 

Enjoying the music they made together on the green, Marsalis decided to just invite Calderazzo to play with him as a duo at the 2009 Newport Jazz Festival. 

“At the end of that concert in August, I said, ‘Hey, I’m booking studio time,’” Marsalis says.  Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 18th, 2012 — 12:53pm

Listening Session with Branford Marsalis

Publication: Duke Performances The Thread
Author: Darren Mueller
Date: January 16, 2012

Journalist John Feinstein once described legendary UNC coach Dean Smith as the “most competitive human being” he had ever met. Smith was so competitive, Feinstein said, that he’d even compete in an interview. The same could be said of saxophonist Branford Marsalis, another local legend, who joined Duke Performances Director Aaron Greenwald for a listening session at Durham’s Motorco Music Hall on January 12. Always happy to express an opinion, Marsalis is a lightning rod for criticism as a result of his unapologetic stance on the contemporary state of jazz.

Throughout the night, Marsalis showed that he doesn’t mind talking about difficult subjects. “Most people that I know,” he said, “are comfortable when they can predict the outcome of the conversation. See, I’m the opposite of that. I find that boring. I want someone to come and tell me I’m full of crap and then I can defend it. I enjoy arguing. I enjoy it because it’s challenging. What gets accomplished when people just agree? But I don’t enjoy screaming, I enjoy arguing.”

As Marsalis told the audience, this comes from his upbringing in a competitive musical family. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 17th, 2012 — 03:09pm

Jazz musicians continue John Coltrane's legacy

Publication: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 Author: Calvin Wilson
Date: January 14, 2012

Of all the saxophonists who have found their sound in jazz, few have been as influential as John Coltrane. Almost 45 years after his death, his music continues to enjoy mainstream popularity, and his name retains its cultural capital. Recently, a commercial for an updated cellphone boasted its ability to “play some Coltrane.”

 Coltrane became famous as a bebop practitioner, but he became legendary as an avant-garde visionary. Along the way, he served as sideman to fellow legends Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, and established a quartet — with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones — that set a standard for jazz artistry.

Two saxophonists who have taken the legacy of “Trane” to heart are coming to St. Louis. His son Ravi Coltrane will lead a quartet at Jazz at the Bistro this week. And Branford Marsalis, who covered Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” on the album “Footsteps of Our Fathers,” will perform with pianist Joey Calderazzo on Jan. 22 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

“It’s hard to imagine jazz without John Coltrane,” Ravi Coltrane said. “Just like it would be hard to imagine jazz without Charlie Parker or Miles Davis. Because they weren’t just great players who existed in one or two periods. They were part of the progression of jazz — the moving of it, the shifting of it, the changing of it.”

The music of John Coltrane, Marsalis said, “is very similar to Beethoven’s music. On the face of it, it’s not very hard at all. No tricks, no secrets. Yet there’s a large amount of passion that you have to bring to the music to make it work. And he’s certainly had an influence on me as a player.”
Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 17th, 2012 — 12:06pm

STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Mirth and Melancholy with Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo

Publication: St. Louis Jazz Notes
Author: Dean Minderman
Date: January 15, 2012

To see Dean’s video picks, visit his original blog post here.

 This week, our video spotlight shines on saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo, who will be in St. Louis for a duo performance on Sunday, January 22 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

In June of last year, Marsalis and Calderazzo released Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, a duo CD on the saxophonist’s Marsalis Music label. This tour essentially is a followup to that recording, which received favorable reviews such as this one from Jazz Times’ Jeff Tamarkin and this one from AllAboutJazz.com’s Mark F. Turner. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 17th, 2012 — 11:32am

Broadway's Not So Incidental Music for Stick Fly, The Mountaintop and More

Publication: Playbill.com
Author: Stuart Miller
Date: December 9, 2011

Unexpected musicians — Alicia Keys, Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard — flavor a new crop of plays on Broadway.

As The Mountaintop, Katori Hall’s debut Broadway play, begins, we hear the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. accompanied by a trumpet, a lone horn singing with an elegiac yearning.

Those notes did not come easy.

The music was written by Branford Marsalis, best known as a saxophone player, former “Tonight Show” bandleader, jazz composer and recording artist. But he’s part of a new generation of composers and musicians bringing their talents to Broadway, not by writing showstoppers for musicals but by making subtler additions to straight plays. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 12th, 2011 — 01:21pm