Festival Review: Red Sea Jazz Festival August 18-21

Publication: The Jerusalem Post
Author: Barry Davis
Date: August 25, 2013

Branford Marsalis may have noted it was devilishly hot at the start of his quartet’s first gig at last week’s Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, but he did absolutely nothing to moderate the furnace-like conditions. He and his cohorts – pianist Joey Calderazzo, bass player Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner – poured out tons of white-hot energy and blistering, silky skills right from the word go.

In a pre-festival interview, 52-year-old saxophonist Marsalis had talked about intensity as his byword, and that was the key to the group’s success. The foursome played material from its latest album, Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, as well as the odd standard, and there was ne’er a dull moment in the entire 80+ minute set.

A prime example was Revis’s seemingly never ending ostinato – repetitive phrase – on one of the numbers. The order and volume of the bass notes never changed, but the intensity of the sound appeared to ebb and flow as the rest the band members did their thing. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 26th, 2013 — 02:37pm

Joyful intent

Publication: The Jerusalem Post
Author: Barry Davis
Date: August 8, 2013

Branford Marsalis is one of the jazz fraternity’s brightest stars and clearest thinkers. The 52- year-old Grammy Award-winning saxophonist will bring a wealth of life experience, as well as scintillating musicianship, with him when he performs at this year’s Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat.

Marsalis will appear on August 20 and 21 with his quartet of pianist Joey Calderazzo, bass player Eric Revis and 21-year-old drummer Justin Faulkner.

Marsalis comes from one of the great jazz families. A native of New Orleans, he has several jazzplaying siblings – including muchfeted trumpeter Wynton, drummer Jason and trombonist Delfeayo – and his 78-year-old father, Ellis, is an iconic pianist and educator. As such, Marsalis got an early start to his musical path in life, although he did not feed off an exclusively jazz-oriented sonic diet.

“Back in those days there was FM radio, and they hadn’t yet worked out how to be commercial,” he recalls. “I heard the full version of “The Court of the Crimson King” [from the 1969 debut LP of British prog rock band King Crimson] and Led Zeppelin and all sorts of great rock music on FM radio. The approach to what could be played on the radio back then on FM radio was different.” But jazz was a constant presence in his early years too, primarily through his father’s influence.

As a young artist plying his way through the ranks, Marsalis benefited from the invaluable experience of working with jazz masters from his father’s generation and before. His incipient skills were honed while performing sideman duties with iconic trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis and, along with brother Wynton, during a berth in powerhouse drummer Art Blakey’s long-running Jazz Messengers troupe. Blakey not only helped to guide the young reedman’s musical expression, but he also imparted some of the wisdom he accrued during his career at the pinnacle of the jazz pile.
Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 8th, 2013 — 02:17pm

Burlington Discover Jazz Fest Builds Upon Community

Publication: Downbeat.com
Author: Jon Ross
Date: July 3, 2013

Dynamic contrast, not needless velocity, grounded Marsalis’ quartet set on June 2, the closing concert of the first weekend. Marsalis, who had last been to the festival in 2009, turned in a wide-ranging and captivating set aided by his exceptional band, which includes drummer Justin Faulkner, an amazing talent who has come into his own as part of the group. Creating a complete ensemble sound and true improvisatory music is at the center of Marsalis’ aesthetic, and throughout the evening he let his bandmates improvise at length, stamping their own personal approach onto his tunes.

To read Jon Ross’ entire roundup of this year’s Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, check out Downbeat.com. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 8th, 2013 — 12:44pm

Review: Rapturous Miguel Zenón performance at SFJazz

Publication: Mercury News
Author: Richard Scheinin
Date: June 1, 2013

When he is on his game — and he often is — alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón combines qualities of sheer romance, sanctified spirit and mathematical precision. In all of jazz, not too many players operate at his level. When his improvised solos really get moving, he rocks back on his heels and the notes just fly, like blizzards of diamonds. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on July 3rd, 2013 — 02:14pm

Branford Marsalis Talks Muffulettas, The Tonight Show, and Jazz

Publication: Maxim
Author: Alexa Lyons
Date: March 27, 2013

We caught up with renowned jazz musician Branford Marsalis just before his current tour (his first stop being at Jazz at Lincoln Center next week), and subjected him to the same 10 questions we always ask everyone.

How did you first get into music?
When you grow up in a city where society values music as much as they value football, it’s easy to make that choice.

How did you get into playing the saxophone?
I was playing clarinet and piano in an R&B band that was doing a weekly talent show. I was really sick of carrying around a 110 lb. clarinet at the age of 14, so I talked a good friend of mine into becoming the piano player so I could switch to saxophone.

Who were your musical inspirations growing up?
Everybody was my music inspiration growing up. Earth Wind & Fire, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Stevie Wonder. They wrote great tunes. Sometimes the songs that weren’t hits were better than the ones that were.

What about modern mainstream artists? Do any of them do it for you?
It serves a different purpose. The Beatles were the first band to make really, really large sums of money playing pop music, and that was in the late ‘60s. So when all of these bands were playing in the ‘50s, learning how to play music, The Beatles included, there was no template to say “we’re gonna go become stars and make piles of money.” They were doing it because they loved to do it. Now there is a template for using pop music as a vehicle to win the lotto. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on March 29th, 2013 — 11:42am