Branford Marsalis News

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Four MFs Playin' Tunes (2012)

Publication: AllAboutJazz.com
Author: Mark F. Turner
Date: July 31, 2012
Read more »

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Four MFs Playin' Tunes (Marsalis Music)

Publication: Offbeat
Author: John Swenson
Date: August 1, 2012

It’s been roughly 100 years since the uniquely American music that came to be known as jazz was being codified on the streets of New Orleans. This music has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to changing times, evolve into different forms and eventually migrate to all parts of the globe. It also has such malleability that cultural historians have been arguing about how to name it for more than half of its lifetime. Branford Marsalis, always a glib thinker, doesn’t quibble about nomenclature. In his refreshingly direct manner, Marsalis titled his new album Four MF’s Playin’ Tunes.

The music has produced an unending string of virtuoso players, which creates its own dilemma. No matter how well you play your instrument(s), someone else out there is as good or better, so becoming top dog is not only about technique and chops but about intangibles like vision, attitude and emotional depth. One of the things that set Marsalis apart is his fearless attitude, his willingness to let the music carry him wherever it will. If he had only taken his diploma from the Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers College of hard bop and led his quartet, he would almost certainly be a lesser figure than he is today. But Marsalis pushed his music into unfamiliar, some would say unworthy, areas— joining Sting’s band, taking over the musical director’s chair for the Tonight Show, jamming with the Grateful Dead and forming the hybrid band Buckshot LeFonque.

Meanwhile he worked hard at both composition and concept. On one hand he’s developed an ambitious program to play with European-style “classical” orchestras; on the other he’s taken on the legacy of John Coltrane, performing his version of American classical music by recording A Love Supreme. He ran the Columbia Jazz A&R department long enough to sign the brilliant saxophonist David S. Ware, but stayed only long enough to realize the only label he could work with was his own. Accordingly, he left and formed his own imprint, Marsalis Music.

In this larger context, Marsalis is able to treat his quartet as the sounding board for his ideals, the roots of a vision that encompasses a larger world. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 9th, 2012 — 09:46am

Jazz to classical, Branford Marsalis does it all

Publication: UT San Diego
Author: George Varga
Date: August 4, 2012

Saxophone star Branford Marsalis is not the first jazz artist who will perform a classical music repertoire at SummerFest in La Jolla, but he is by far the most celebrated and best known. Credit for this goes to his multiple Grammy Awards in both jazz and pop, his high-profile TV stint in the 1990s as the band leader and musical director on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” and his acting in the films “Throw Momma From the Train” and “School Daze.”

But what really makes this Louisiana native stand out is his ability to shine in almost any musical setting. Accordingly, his Wednesday concert at Sherwood Auditorium will feature works by such uncompromising composers as Hindemith, Barber and Busch, as well as a series of improvisation-fueled jazz duets with bassist Eric Revis.

An artist for all seasons, the eclectic saxophonist has appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and other top orchestras around the world on works by Mahler, Copland, Debussy and Milhaud. He has scored two Broadway plays, last year’s “The Mountain Top” and the 2010 revival of August Wilson’s “Fences” (for which Marsalis’ music earned a Tony Award nomination). And he has collaborated with an array of artists so stylistically diverse that it’s difficult to think of any other saxophonist, in or out of jazz, who even comes close. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 9th, 2012 — 09:50am

Branford Marsalis + "Treat It Gentle"

Publication: The Revivalist
Author: Eric Sandler
Date: August 6, 2012

Today we are extremely excited to release the video for “Treat It Gentle” from the Branford Marsalis Quartet’s new release Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, out 8/7 on Marsalis Music. The song, featuring influence from the great Sidney Bechet, captures the recording process for the song while encompassing amazing performances from Marsalis, Justin Faulkner, Joey Calderazzo, and Eric Revis.

Moreover, we are bringing you an in-depth interview with Branford Marsalis to bring together the story of the album as well as his thoughts on jazz music today. Whether you agree with him or not, it’s hard to fight the sheer intellect and experience with which Marsalis speaks. Read on to delve into the alway engaging insights of Mr. Marsalis.

Visit The Revivalist to view the video for “Treat It Gentle.”

We are releasing your video for “Treat It Gentle” today. Can you tell me about the process of recording and how that song came together on the record?

It’s a song that I wrote last summer. I’d been listening to a bunch of Sidney Bechet and I just wrote it in my head. A couple of songs that we wanted to put on the record didn’t sound very good; they didn’t work out well. So I just said, “Oh, I’ve got this song that I wrote.” They asked where it was, but I hadn’t written it out so I took 20-minutes and wrote out the changes for them.

You are very focused on the songs with this record. How important was the songwriting process and reaching the emotion with each song?

Well the songwriting isn’t really important; the song is important. I don’t have this obsession with writing my own material. A lot of guys want to be called composers, you know. But if you’ve ever read a score by Mahler or Wagner, you would know for a fact that I don’t compose, I write tunes. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 8th, 2012 — 05:14pm

Branford Marsalis Quartet - Four MFs Playin' Tunes (2012)

Publication: Something Else!
Author: Nick DeRiso
Date: August 4, 2012

f you’ve often felt that saxophonist Branford Marsalis’ studio recordings failed to reflect the intensity and humor of his live appearances, this MF is for you.

Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, due on August 7, 2012 from Marsalis Music, telegraphs its almost offhanded sense of straight-ahead propulsion right in its very title — a humorous suggestion from the eldest of the Marsalis family of jazz performers that ended up sticking. Featured are a string of original band compositions, along with two covers — one from Thelonious Monk (“Teo”) and another dating back to the 1930s (the Sidney Bechet bonus track). Along the way, Marsalis and Co. have captured the fervor of a classic blowing-session — starting with the album’s percolating opener “The Mighty Sword,” and not often letting up through eight subsequent tracks.

“Brews” is somehow both blues and textural, even while sneaking in a few Rollins-ish quips. “Whiplash” lives up to its billing, with a rhythm that rumbles along like a rising summer storm amid an exhilarating series of runs from Marsalis. Then there’s “Teo,” with its classic downtown-traffic stops and starts.

That’s not to say Marsalis hasn’t retained his gentle way with a ballad.

He unfurls an eloquent romanticism on soprano during “As Summer Into Autumn Slips,” explores a deeply emotional place on “Maestra” and then switches to a frisky but yet still honeyed tenor for “My Ideal.” Marsalis tips a hat to his roots as a New Orleans native too, both with the briskly imaginative “Endymion” (one of the signature krewes in the annual Mardi Gras parades) and, of course, with the smooth yet distinctive Bechet number.

But there’s no less a sense of focus, no less a sense of commitment. By the time it’s over, Four MFs Playin’ Tunes has through sheer force and wit finally captured the winking intelligence — really, the loose sense of serious fun — that’s always been part of Marsalis’ stage show. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 8th, 2012 — 02:08pm