A dedicated, open mind allows Branford Marsalis to have the world of music at his fingertips

Publication: Columbia Daily Tribune
Author: Amy Wilder
Date: February 1, 2015

Branford Marsalis is a musical polyglot. He is fluent in every language and genre, from classical to jazz, R&B and hip-hop, and his saxophone gives voice to something beyond words, defiant of traditional boundaries.

He will perform at the Missouri Theatre Feb. 8 as part of the “We Always Swing” Jazz Series; the date is this year’s University of Missouri College of Arts and Science Signature Concert. Marsalis brings with him a trio of longtime collaborators to round out his quartet: pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and relative newcomer, percussionist Justin Faulkner.

In Marsalis’ most recent release, “In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral,” — recorded in 2012 and released last fall — the saxophonist’s haunting melodies fill the cavernous space of the San Francisco cathedral, dipping gracefully in and out of various genres with nods and homages, and the through line vacillates between jazz and classical styles.

Especially indicative of his tendency to scale musical boundaries is the track “Blues For One.” In it, he establishes an ambulatory shuffle blues rhythm and then adds a boogie-woogie melody on top of it. That he does that all with one instrument, playing into the echoes in the church, is incredible.

The transition to a solo performance was entirely natural for Marsalis; his catholic, fluid ability is something he attributes in part to his consumption of the work of other musicians; he draws analogies from another love — sports.

Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 2nd, 2015 — 09:46am

The Many Movements Of Branford Marsalis

Publication: WUNC’s The State of Things
Interviewer: Frank Stasio
Date: January 29, 2015

Frank Stasio from WUNC’s program The State of Things interviews Branford Marsalis and topics include Marsalis’s bandmates Joey Calderazzo and Justin Faulkner, performing with The Grateful Dead, and Branford’s most recent album, In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral. Head over to WUNC’s website to listen to the full interview

Read more »

Nick DeRiso’s Best of 2014 (Blues, R&B + Jazz): D’Angelo, Paul Rodgers, Branford Marsalis

Publication: Something Else!
Author: Nick DeRiso
Date: December 21, 2014

There were surprises, and there were comebacks. There were consolidations, and amazing innovations. But what bound together these Best of 2014 selections was a streak of soulful emotion.

No. 3 — BRANFORD MARSALIS – IN MY SOLITUDE: LIVE AT GRACE CATHEDRAL (JAZZ): Never one to shy away from a big moment, Branford Marsalis brought his saxophones — and nothing else — to one of jazz’s most iconic settings. The results don’t supercede Duke Ellington’s initial 1960s-era Sacred Concert — held there, as well — so much as endeavor to expand the vocabulary of that stirring triumph. Ellington, back then, was focused on blending jazz, black gospel and classical into a kind of large-scale, yet intimate tapestry of emotion. Marsalis instead crafted more in miniature but at the same time, pushed in his own way to blur the lines between post-bop jazz and contemporary classical. In place of the sacred, he delved into modernity of free-form improv — and the results were stunning.

Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 20th, 2015 — 09:58am

Marsalis, Greene deliver albums of beauty, depth

Publication: Tribune-Review
Author: Bob Karlovits
Date: December 20, 2014

Everything about Branford Marsalis’ “In My Solitude” is excellent — or better. From the tone and improvisation of his play to high-quality recording that makes metallic clicking of his keys clear, the album is marvelous. It features a solo Marsalis offering music that is as new as four improvisations by him and as old as a sonata from C.P.E. Bach (1714-88). Of the four improvisations, No. 1 has the feeling of a piece from an etude book but with a modern flavor. He also offers a great bit of new playing on “Blues for One.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 22nd, 2014 — 03:26pm

Branford Marsalis: Recording, Live at Grace Cathedral

Publication: San Francisco Classical Voice
Author: Jeff Kaliss
Date: December 19, 2014

Atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill, Grace Cathedral has long welcomed pilgrims of fine music as well as worshipers from the Episcopal Diocese of California. From the recorded sound of it, the solo concert presented there by veteran reed player Branford Marsalis, in October of 2012 was a spiritually enhancing experience transcending orthodox musical sects.

Marsalis, eldest of the four musical brothers in that New Orleans dynasty, hosted a delightfully ecumenical program that took in the American songbook, a TV show theme song, rhythm and blues, the austere borderland of New Music and jazz, and a sonata by C.P.E. Bach, as well as his own through-composed pieces and four diverse improvisations.

Along the way, Marsalis showcased his soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones, but coaxed unfamiliar sounds from the instruments, in the process making consciously varied use of the echo qualities of the spacious structure, and spontaneous use of unanticipated phenomena.

On his “Improvisation No. 3,” for example, Marsalis mimicked the venue’s echo by repeating certain phrases of his invention. Midway through the session, a siren passing on California Street made itself audible, acknowledged with a honk from the tenor sax.

The high-wire thrill of performing solo without any other instrumental support was matched by manifestation of a unique sort of freedom. On Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust,” absent the time-keeping rhythm section with which his jazz fans are accustomed to hearing Marsalis, the saxophonist was free both to move through extended impressionist passages before stating the familiar melodic theme, and to elasticize the lines of that theme to his heart’s content.
Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 22nd, 2014 — 02:41pm