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Claudia Acuña

Publication: The New York City Jazz Record
Author: Suzanne Lorge
Date: March 2013 issue

Claudia Acuña moved to New York City from Santiago, Chile in 1995. She’d been working as a singer with some success in her home country, but American jazz is what captured her imagination. She worked her way up through the New York club scene during the late ‘90s, impressing many influential personalities in the jazz world with her compelling voice and rhythmic acuity. Her first record deal came from Verve in 1999 and other companies and producers soon followed - MAXJAZZ, ZoHo Music and Marsalis Music. Acuña spoke with The New York City Jazz Record about how she turned her career visions into reality.

The New York City Jazz Record: What were your early days as an unknown jazz singer in New York like, newly arrived from a foreign country?

Claudia Acuña: My first years here, I didn’t know at the time much English. I couldn’t afford to go to school and I didn’t know how to apply for scholarships. So I started going a lot to places like Smalls, where I met [pianist] Harry Whitaker, an amazing musician and composer. We used to get together almost every day at Smalls and we’d just do repertoire or arrangements. He was the first one to encourage me to arrange and write.

TNYCJR: Who were your other teachers and mentors?

CA: I participated in the workshops of Barry Harris and one of the first drummers I worked with, Jeff Ballard, used to teach me. Then I worked with people like Jason Lindner, who became a very strong collaborator. We co-wrote songs and worked consistently for almost 12 to 13 years. I also had the fortune [to meet] people with so much history, like Frank Hewitt, Jimmy Lovelace and Stanley Turrentine. And also to work with [bassist] Avishai Cohen and Avi Leibowitz and Pablo Ziegler - it just doesn’t stop. It’s a beautiful journey of having the honor and blessings and working with people who have been very patient and generous. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 25th, 2013 — 01:20pm

Branford Marsalis @ North Central College

Publication: Chicago Reader
Author: Peter Margasak
Date: February 24, 2013

For the past five years or so saxophonist Branford Marsalis has been calling out what he sees as the jazz world’s problem with insularity—for some players, he says, technical mastery and precision trump emotional expression and the urge to communicate or entertain. The tongue-in-cheek title of his latest album, Four MFs Playin’ Tunes (Marsalis Music), certainly reads as a salvo against eggheadedness—there are indeed four badass players on this record, and they’re killing it. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 25th, 2013 — 11:25am

Branford Marsalis Waxes Philosophical

Publication: Washington Informer
Author: Stacy M. Brown
Date: February 13, 2013

Exuding the class often associated with jazz, a member of an esteemed family waxes philosophical about music, Hollywood and growing up in a family of accomplished musicians.

Grammy award winner Branford Marsalis intends to mesmerize the audience Friday evening when he and his quartet perform before jazz aficionados, longtime fans and newcomers to the genre.

Marsalis said there’s a uniqueness about jazz musicians, largely because of the laid back style of the music and the perceived sophistication that it takes to create jazz.

There are a lot of musicians interested in jazz because of the intellectual component. But, a lot of guys also play jazz because that’s all they know how to play,” said Marsalis, who is touring the country with his quartet to bolster his latest CD, “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes,” which is currently available at Marsalis’ website, www.branfordmarsalis.com and iTunes.com. The CD has already been named Apple iTunes Instrumental Jazz Album of the Year. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 19th, 2013 — 05:18pm

‘An Evening with Branford Marsalis’ at Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

Publication: DCMetroTheaterArts.com
Author: Tiffany Draut
Date: February 16, 2013

Five Stars
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is known for its quality performances, and the audience is always more than appreciative. But the February 15, 2013 concert, An Evening with Branford Marsalis, had a level of energy and excitement not often seen at the Center.

Introduced by Susie Farr, the quartet sauntered onstage as if they were showing up to an informal jam session—a fun, relaxed tone that continued throughout the evening, and allowed the audience to relax and truly get excited about the music. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 19th, 2013 — 05:18pm

Sax great Branford Marsalis says jazz magic comes from group interplay, not solos

Publication: Hampton Daily Press
Author: Sam McDonald
Date: February 15, 2013

In years past, sax man Branford Marsalis backed a rock star named Sting and added musical punch to Jay Leno’s late-night talk show.

These days, though, he’s working for himself. What’s he up to? He’s playing undiluted, unbridled jazz.

His new album, featuring the no-nonsense title of “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes,” features a hot, swinging quartet playing jazz in the classic fashion. In this case, though, that means fewer showboating solos and more group interplay.

“The tune is more important than any individual solo or any idea of genius or innovation, all these false choices that I hear in the jazz world,” Marsalis told National Public Radio last year. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 19th, 2013 — 03:29pm