Branford Marsalis News

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 — 04:26pm

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.
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Submitted by Courtney on December 22nd, 2014 — 03:41pm

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 — 05:14pm

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 — 11:06am

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 — 01:22pm