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 — 10:42am

A conversation with Branford Marsalis

Publication: Cincinnati.com
Author: Janelle Gelfand
Date: March 14, 2013

Yesterday, I sat down for a talk with saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who was backstage at Music Hall, getting ready to go to CCM to meet with students. He’s in a residency this week, and his activities include school visits and a performance in Friday’s “Classical Roots” concert in Music Hall. He was intellectual, thoughtful and pleasant as he talked.

Here are a few things that were on his mind:

Surprises about Cincinnati: Snow in mid-March was surprising and depressing.  I watch enough baseball to know that in April, they’re out there freezing to death. It was 60 degrees when I left N. Carolina.

I was surprised when I first got here about what a prominent role the arts play. In so many cities, the arts are things they are trying to expunge and slash. We live in an era where there is no differentiation between arts and entertainment. To actually see a city that is focusing on the arts and making it a major role in the development of their children, it’s amazing.

The former Tonight Show bandleader’s  return last month to the show:  It was a homecoming. It’s been four or five years. In TV, five seconds is long. For me, I don’t gain anything by going back. People who stay up and watch TV at 12:30 a.m. don’t run out the next day and buy a CD.  For me, it was a personal homecoming to see Jay and see friends, and I have a lot of friends. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on March 18th, 2013 — 11:24am

Branford Marsalis joins CSO, community choir for Classical Roots

Publication: The Cincinnati Herald
Date: March 9, 2013

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s annual “Classical Roots” concert at Music Hall has garnered a reputation for the unique musical collaborations it generates. Each concert has featured stars of the opera, gospel and soul worlds, not to mention the 150-member Community Mass Choir that represents over 30 area churches. This year, the CSO adds another notable bond to the list in jazz legend Branford Marsalis. The threetime Grammy Award-winning saxophonist will be making a “cameo” appearance as soloist during the program at Music Hall Friday, March 15.

Exhibiting the diversity of the “Classical Roots” experience, Marsalis will be performing Jacques Ibert’s Concertino da camera for alto saxophone and orchestra, along with Billy Stayhorn’s “Take the ‘A’ Train.” As one of the most recognizable jazz standards, “Take the ‘A’ Train” became widely popular by Stayhorn’s long-time collaborator Duke Ellington. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on March 8th, 2013 — 10:50am

The Week That Was: Branford Marsalis Quartet at the EKU Center for the Arts in Richmond

Publication: Kentucky.com
Author: Walter Tunis
Date: March 7, 2013

One doesn’t normally associate the dramatics and dynamics of a jazz artist, especially one as heralded as Branford Marsalis, with a stage move. But last week, the multi-Grammy-winning saxophonist and bandleader came up with one, whether he realized it or not, that was literally in step with the cool and wildly adventurous music conjured by his quartet. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on March 8th, 2013 — 10:40am

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