JazzTimes.com Exclusive: A Conversation with Terence Blanchard and Branford Marsalis

Publication: Jazztimes.com
Author: Jeff Tamarkin
Date: September 4, 2013

At a party in Istanbul late in April, during the International Jazz Week celebrations, JazzTimes found New Orleans trumpeter Terence Blanchard and saxophonist Branford Marsalis hanging out together in one of the many rooms of the host’s home. We asked them if they’d mind giving us a two-minute quote on the significance of the event and they did. And then they kept on talking—for another half hour. We had our handy digital recorder with us and let them go on, our reporter tossing in the occasional question but mostly just letting them riff. What follows is a verbatim transcript of their sometimes rambling, often hilarious, always astute conversation.

Why is International Jazz Day important?

Terence Blanchard: First of all, it’s amazing that there is such a thing as International Jazz Day. It means that, politically, the music has come a long way.

How do you feel about the event being held in a city such as Istanbul, which is not particularly known for its jazz?

Branford Marsalis: The whole thing about it is outreach. If you’re going to do this sort of thing, you bring it to places that have potential. Putting it in New York was kind of like, what’s the big whoop? Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 4th, 2013 — 02:00pm

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 — 01:37pm

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 — 01:17pm

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 — 11:44am

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 — 01:14pm