Branford Marsalis News

Branford Marsalis: In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral (Review)

Publication: Relix.com
Author: Jeff Tamarkin
Date: December 11, 2014

In jazz, certain instruments lend themselves well to solo performance more than others: Most major pianists, at one time or another, play a solo concert and solo guitar is also plentiful in the concert hall and on record. Saxophone is riskier—sans rhythm section, the saxophonist must hold the attention of the listener via the sheer strength of melody or, with avant-gardists who’ve gone this route, ear-bending experimentalism. Branford Marsalis’ 2012 performance at San Francisco’s regal Grace Cathedral is never in danger of losing its way or its audience. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 16th, 2014 — 04:14pm

Albums of the week (Oct 17-23) - Jazz: Branford Marsalis, In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral

Publication: Evening Standard
Author: Jane Cornwell
Date: October 17, 2014

Three-time Grammy winner Marsalis has long explored the creative possibilities of the jazz quartet and duo setting; his warm, expressive saxophone playing has enhanced many a classical ensemble and transformed countless rock and pop performances. Now comes the American maestro’s first unaccompanied solo album, recorded live inside an iconic San Francisco landmark with vaulted ceiling arches and a seven-second delay. And what a glorious affair it is: spare, melodic and perhaps inevitably spiritual. Whether playing soprano, alto or tenor saxophone on tracks including Hoagy Carmichael’s evergreen Stardust, his own inventive The Moment I Recall Your Face and a handful of soaring improvisations, Marsalis is unhurried, respectful but direct. An intimate work that eschews virtuosic flurries in favour of meaning and feeling.

Submitted by Courtney on November 6th, 2014 — 10:06am

Branford Marsalis – In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral – Sony/Okeh, 64:57 – [10/28/14] *****

Publication: Audiophile Audition
Author: Jeff Krow
Date: October 26, 2014

Playing a solo recital concert in a sacred and iconic cathedral is quite an undertaking. Such is the task that the adventurous saxophonist Branford Marsalis took on when he played in a solo setting at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on Oct. 5, 2012. This famous cathedral was the setting for Duke Ellington’s famous Sacred Concerts in the 1960s, and since 1983 it has been used for jazz, baroque, and classical concerts. Its acoustics are marvelous and its setting is inspiring to both musicians and audiences. Its beauty is comparable to cathedrals in Europe. [And it has an outdoor labrinyth…Ed.]
 
For his repertoire Branford included composed and improvised material ranging from Bach, compositions by Steve Lacy and Ryo Noda, and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” Marsalis titled his improvisations simply “Improvisations 1-4.” They were composed “on the spot” based on the vibe that was present in the cathedral at the time. 

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Submitted by Courtney on November 5th, 2014 — 12:22pm

'Well-Tempered' Marsalis brings Baroque classics to BU

Publication: Press & Sun Bulletin
Author: Chris Kocher
Date: October 22, 2014

When most people think of Grammy Award-winning saxophonist and composer Branford Marsalis, the first thing that comes to mind is jazz — and rightly so.
 
After all, he shares his birthplace with jazz music itself — New Orleans — and he grew up in a talented musical household. His pianist father, Ellis Marsalis Jr., earned critical praise for his modernist take on the distinctly American genre and, as an educator, taught others how to swing. It’s no surprise that Branford and brothers Wynton (trumpet), Delfeayo (trombone) and Jason (drums) took up the family business, too.
 
However, he says, “classical music has always been an interest for me. Performing it is something that has developed over the last 10 years, but I’ve been listening to it since I was a kid.”
 
What he needed was the opportunity, and that developed organically out of his 2001 album “Creation” with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which featured works by Ravel, Milhaud and Debussy. Since then, among various jazz projects, he has toured the United States with the Philarmonia Brasileira (performing works by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos) and performed with the New York Philharmonic.
 
His latest collaboration is a 20-city tour with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia dubbed “Marsalis Well-Tempered,” which comes to Binghamton University’s Anderson Center on Tuesday night. The program focuses on Baroque masterpieces from the 17th and 18th centuries, transcribing oboe or violin solos for saxophone on pieces by Albinoni, Bach, Purcell, Handel, Vivaldi and others.
 
His latest album is a more singular affair: “In My Solitude” (to be released, coincidentally, on Tuesday by OKey Records) features a recording of a solo performance in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral.
 
In an interview from Los Angeles last week, Marsalis spoke of the challenges of classical music versus jazz, as well as some of the best advice his dad ever gave to him.
 
QUESTION: What qualities do classical music and jazz share, and how are they different?
 
MARSALIS: I think the qualities that all styles of music share are that people like songs with a good beat and a strong melody, regardless of the genre.

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Submitted by Courtney on October 24th, 2014 — 11:21am

'Well tempered' Marsalis brings jazz, pop, Baroque to Lexington stage

Publication: Kentucky.com
Author: Walter Tunis
Date: October 23, 2014

The true charm of the new Branford Marsalis album In My Solitude isn’t its meshing of jazz and classical genres, although the tightrope walk the celebrated saxophonist takes between the two is quite fascinating.
 
No, the most arresting aspect to the live recording, which will be released Tuesday, is its sound. With no accompaniment whatsoever, save for the acoustics of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, the music of Marsalis sounds ancient — ghostly, even.
 
It could be the Wayne Shorter-like expression he conjures on soprano sax during the album-opening take on Steve Lacy’s Who Needs It or the luscious warmth that envelops I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together (the closing theme music from The Carol Burnett Show) or the glorious echo that surrounds all 10 tunes with a subtle, timeworn sheen.
 
On first listen, In My Solitude recalls the otherworldly recordings the great Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek cut for the European ECM label, especially the glorious works where he replaced a conventional rhythm section with the magnificent vocal command of the Hilliard Ensemble. True to ECM form, the resulting music leaned neither to the Hilliards’ love of tone and classical nuance or the Nordic blasts of improvisational chill that were earmarks of Garbarek’s playing.
 
What those records discovered was a fascinatingly stark musical world in between where the unison playing sounded like it had traveled through centuries from a land equally distant.
 
Marsalis’ playing on In My Solitude isn’t as removed or unsettled as Garbarek’s, but it’s just as beautifully indefinable. 

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Submitted by Courtney on October 23rd, 2014 — 01:15pm