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Review: Branford Marsalis Quartet at the Lobero Theatre

Publication: Santa Barbara Independent
Author: Charles Donelan
Date: May 8, 2014

“It’s going to get kind of funky tonight,” said Branford Marsalis upon taking the Lobero stage, adding, “and it’s going to be fun.” The artist and his current quartet delivered on both counts, as the group’s 100 minute set flew by, with each extended composition revealing another aspect of this consummate musician’s mastery. The opener, “The Mighty Sword” featured Marsalis on soprano sax, an instrument he wields with a combination of sophistication and power comparable to that of the late John Coltrane, an acknowledged inspiration for much of what this quartet does. Pianist Joey Calderazzo added plenty of funk to this otherwise straight-ahead post-bop blast off.

Three quarters of this extraordinarily cohesive band has been together for decades. The one relative newcomer, drummer Justin Faulkner, is an amazing find, and his playing throughout the night was a revelation. 

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Submitted by Courtney on May 9th, 2014 — 01:21pm

Review: Branford Marsalis Quartet delivers knockout punch

Publication: San Jose Mercury News
Author: Richard Scheinin
Date: April 27, 2014

SANTA CRUZ — As the Branford Marsalis Quartet opened its late show Monday at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, drummer Justin Faulkner jabbed like a boxer. Hook. Uppercut. Jab, jab, jab. The band’s music was raw and rumbling, almost violent — but played with such scarifying control as to convey a sense of elegance, too. It was Muhammad Ali music: float, sting, deliver the knockout punch.

Composed by Joey Calderazzo, the group’s pianist, the tune was titled “The Mighty Sword,” which tells you all you have to know.

For the next 90 minutes — it was the second of two sold-out shows, preceding a two-night run in San Francisco — saxophonist Marsalis and his group engaged a strategy of virtuosity and cockiness, clarity and clout. It covered a lot of territory — bebop and 1970s Keith Jarrett rubato, as well as a tune associated with Louis Armstrong — but it kept coming back to the power-punch and to its own brand of blowtorch Coltrane intensity. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on April 30th, 2014 — 11:13am

Branford Marsalis caps his New Orleans Jazz Fest 2014 with a grand family reunion

Publication: The Times-Picayune The Times-Picayune
Author: Chris Waddington, NOLA.com
Date: April 26, 2014

Saxophone colossus Branford Marsalis knows how to close out a Saturday (April 26) at the New Orleans Jazz Fest: Bring brother Jason and father Ellis onto the Jazz Tent stage for a chilling account of “St. James Infirmary.” Their whiplash rendition opened with a doom-laden bass solo by Eric Revis, and unscrolled with all the darkness that three natives of New Orleans can bring to a dirge that is in their blood.

It was a glorious climax to a program that showcased Branford Marsalis’ powerful working band. In addition to Revis, the quartet includes Joey Calderazzo on piano and Justin Faulkner on drums. Thanks to them, the energy never dropped when Marsalis stepped away from the spotlight.
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Submitted by Ben on April 28th, 2014 — 10:31am

Jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis and quartet perform Friday evening

Publiation: Gainesville.com
Author: Jeff Schweers
Date: April 2, 2014

Basketball is probably the last thing you’d expect to talk to Branford Marsalis about, but when talking to the award-winning saxophonist you have to expect the unexpected.

Same goes for his concerts. When he and his quartet come to the Phillips Center on Friday, the audience could be in for a surprise because the band has no setlist and plays according to the room and the audience.

“As soon as we hear the room and the sound with an audience we will know what to play,” Marsalis said by phone while eating breakfast at a cafe in Durham, N. C., before teaching class at North Carolina Central University, where he’s been since joining the faculty in 2005.

At one recent concert the audience wasn’t responding to anything written after 1950, so Marsalis called out to the band “Trad night,” and they played a set of traditional songs. “They were over the moon,” he said of the band. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on April 2nd, 2014 — 06:09pm

Interview: Ellis and Wynton Marsalis

Publication: NUVO News
Author: Scott Shoger
Date: March 26, 2014

Ellis Marsalis, Jr. — the paterfamilias of the jazz-playing Marsalis clan — says he was “never big on family bands.” Maybe that’s why even after the Marsalis family performed together for the first time during a retirement celebration for Ellis in 2001, they still don’t play as a family all that often. The sole date on their online schedule is their Clowes Hall show. And then they’ll go their separate ways: Wynton with his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; Ellis, Branford and Jason with their respective quartets; Delfeayo with the Uptown Jazz Orchestra; spoken word artist Ellis III to wherever it is that he issues his oracular judgments on American life (Wynton will have more on that in a minute).

In short, all the Marsalises lead busy professional and personal lives, so it’s only when Ellis is “interested in doing it,” according to Wynton, that they get together for another show. “He’s at the stage now of his life where we try to get together and touch base with him,” he adds. I talked with both Ellis and Wynton this week: Ellis from New Orleans; Wynton from somewhere on the road between San Francisco and Ames, Iowa (he prefers not to fly when he has a choice). The results are as follow, but a quick bio seems in order:

Born in New Orleans in 1934, Ellis Marsalis, Jr. came up as jazz pianist, playing in a modern style that wasn’t obviously indebted to Dixieland and R&B, before moving into education, eventually teaching on both a high school and university level, notably at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. He and his wife, Delores, have six sons, five of whom will perform at Clowes. There’s Branford, an adventurous saxophonist who’s worked with Art Blakey, Sting and the Grateful Dead and briefly served as musical director for The Tonight Show. Wynton, a nine-time Grammy winner, long-time artistic head of Jazz at Lincoln Center and notorious contrarian. Ellis, who contributes spoken word monologues to some Marsalis Family gigs. Trombonist Delfeayo, who has followed directly in his dad’s path in becoming a New Orleans-based educator. And drummer Jason, the youngest Marsalis, who has spent more time performing with his dad than any other son.

Feel free to consult Wikipedia or, hell, the Grove Dictionary of Music for more information; for now, to the interviews!
  

NUVO: So, who calls the shots at a Marsalis Family show? Your dad?

Wynton Marsalis: Yeah, we go along with him, whatever he wants. He sacrificed for us so much, we have so much respect for him that it’s not a problem.

NUVO: Is there any different sort of chemistry when playing with your family vs. playing with other talented musicians?

Wynton: We all grew up listening to our father’s music. But for Branford and I, it’s different because we grew up playing together. We didn’t play with Delfeayo so much because he’s younger than us. And Jason was two when I left home. He’s such a talented musician, with his hearing and the understanding of the concepts of what we play. He grew up playing with my father, so I’m sure there’s a chemistry between them. Read more »