hayti heritage center

Review: 'Four MFs' have strong melodies

Publication: The Herald-Sun (Durham)
Author: Cliff Bellamy
Date: August 10, 2012

Branford Marsalis Quartet. “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes” (Marsalis Music)

In film director Charles Cardello’s wonderful documentary about the new recording by the Branford Marsalis Quartet, Marsalis and other members of the quartet discuss how records used to be made. Marsalis talks about Frank Sinatra singing some 20 tunes in a marathon session with orchestra. “When you listen to those Miles Davis records like ‘Nefertiti’ and ‘Miles Smiles,’ ” Marsalis continues, “they just brought those tunes in and played them. They never even played them on the road and it’s killing. I want to be like them.”

“Killing” applies to the music on “Four MFs Playing Tunes,” released this week. The record is the third the quartet has recorded at St. Joseph’s Church at Hayti Heritage Center, along with Marsalis’ duo record with pianist Joey Calderazzo, “Songs of Mirth and Melancholy.” On this record, the quartet is made up of veterans Marsalis on saxophones, Calderazzo on piano, and Eric Revis on bass, with relative newcomer Justin Faulkner on drums. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 15th, 2012 — 09:17am

On Music: Branford Marsalis

Publication: The Paris Review Daily
Author: Sam Stephenson
Date: December 8, 2011

It’s sixty-two degrees and raining in downtown Durham, North Carolina, on a Tuesday in mid-October. At noon members of the Branford Marsalis Quartet gather at the former St. Joseph’s African Methodist Episcopal church, built in 1891, now converted into the Hayti Heritage Center, an arts-and-community nonprofit. Their goal is to record a new album over the next few days.

When Marsalis moved his family to Durham from New York a decade ago, the local press assumed he was replacing the retiring director of Duke’s jazz department, saxophonist Paul Jeffrey. But Marsalis, who’d grown up in Louisiana, simply wanted to return to the South and picked Raleigh-Durham because the area had an airport large enough to get him anywhere he needed to go. Later, he began teaching part-time in the noted jazz program at the historically black North Carolina Central University, which is a mile down the road from Hayti.

The original St. Joseph’s sanctuary remains intact: a wood-plank stage, hardwood pews, a balcony, chandeliers, and lots of stained glass. Marsalis began recording albums here in 2006 when he noticed that the room had a unique quality: there is no reverb at low decibel levels; it grows gradually with the sound.

His road manager, Roderick Ward, and sound engineer, Rob Hunter—who have been with Marsalis for twenty-seven and twenty-two years, respectively—spent two days creating a recording studio on the sanctuary’s stage and in adjoining rooms, hauling in seventy crates of equipment and cables and renting a Steinway grand from Hopper Piano and Organ in Raleigh. It’s the sixth time they’ve transformed this space. The advantage of working in Hayti, says Hunter, is that “we can build a studio the way we want to, rather than trying to adapt to an established studio’s specifications.” “The disadvantage,” he adds, chuckling, “is that we have to build a studio.”

I asked Marsalis if he had planned any overarching themes for this recording session. “Musicians who talk about their concept—that’s why all their songs sound the same,” he said. “We select good songs and we play them to the best of our ability. Then we move on to another song and do it again. That’s our concept.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 8th, 2011 — 04:45pm

Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo Swing Hard, On and Off the Course

Publication: Huffington Post
Author: Kristi York Wooten
Date: July 12, 2011

This is not a blog about golf — although the two jazz musicians/golf players here in question will tell you their attempts to master the sport require almost as much time and energy as prepping for shows at the world’s top music venues.

Yet, when it comes to saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo, golf factors into the story only because they first started dueting publicly at charity tournaments, which eventually led to a much-lauded duo gig at the 2009 Newport Jazz Festival — and now, at long last, a full-length CD: Songs of Mirth and Melancholy. Read more »