From jazz to classical, Branford Marsalis stays busy
Publication: The Advocate
Author: John Wirt
Date: March 27, 2014
Jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis just returned to the U.S. from London. He spent challenging days there studying Baroque ornamentation with flutist Stephen Preston. This week he’s playing jazz gigs in Puerto Rico, Florida and Indiana. Next week he’s in Baton Rouge and Florida again. The following week he goes to Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
Marsalis, the eldest son of New Orleans’ modern-jazz pianist, composer and educator Ellis Marsalis, moves between playing jazz with his Branford Marsalis Quartet and performing classical concertos with symphony orchestras. He also composes music for the Broadway stage and teaches.
Before his two Wednesday shows at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge, Marsalis will join his brothers Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason, their father, Ellis, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in concert Saturday at Butler University in Indianapolis.
The Marsalis family and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra being the great jazz musicians they are, only a minimum of musical preparation is necessary for the Indianapolis concert.
A Marsalis family concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for instance, which can be heard in the 2009 album, “Music Redeems,” came together at 2 a.m. the night before the event.
“Wynton and I both flew straight into D.C., from Europe that day,” Marsalis said. “We know what we’re doing.”
An accomplished musician at 53, the Durham, N.C.-based Marsalis nevertheless makes time to practice hours a day, every day.
“At my age, this is that period where everybody starts knowing what they’re good at and resting on it,” he said. “Some people get there even sooner.”
For Marsalis, however, being satisfied with one’s skills and knowledge signifies the end of artistry.
“A lot of my friends will say, ‘Yeah, I want to go on vacation. I don’t have to take my work with me. The horn stays in the corner.’ But I do have to take my work with me,” he said.