June 2014 Marsalis Music Newsletter

Tue, 2014-06-10

We Will Miss You, Ms. Angelou
During the 1990s, Branford Marsalis explored a blend of rock, hip-hop, jazz, reggae, and African elements with his band Buckshot Lefonque on their eponymous release in 1994 and on Music Evolution in 1997. Among other special guest artists on the band’s first album, America’s poet laureate Maya Angelou reads her classic poem “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” on a track of the same name.
Branford tells us: “I have always admired Ms. Angelou’s work although I never met her in person, I had the honor to speak with her on the phone.  I asked her to recite one of her poems over a track we had recorded for the Buckshot album. When she heard the track, she suggested “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”.  She recorded at a studio in Winston-Salem, and mailed the DAT tape to me in LA. I asked her to trust that I would place the voice properly, as it would be difficult to do live, and she obliged. I think that her choice of poem with the imagery of a caged bird singing for freedom was a wonderful match for the tune.  Ms. Angelou’s words and life were an inspiration to many.  I will miss her spirit, grace, and wit.”

Listen to Maya Angelou and Buckshot LeFonque’s collaboration via YouTube or Spotify.
Maya Angelou passed away May 28, 2014.

DownBeat Master Class Feature with Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis contributed a piece to the May issue of DownBeat Magazine sharing his views on what is most important in jazz education. We have the article posted at MarsalisMusic.com - check it out!
“… what can be gained by the art of listening is what many of us should seek, and no music book can provide: context. What I mean by context, relative to music, is tone, phrasing, hearing - all of things that make any music unique…. If you were to study baroque music, you would find that there are almost none of the dynamic or expressive markings associated with classical music in subsequent years. It was, and still is, incumbent on the musician to understand how the music sounds, and how it is phrased, in addition to ornamentation. This is what I learned, gradually, in another context: when I started listening to Lester Young.”
-Branford Marsalis, excerpt from DownBeat article

Wishing all the dads out there a warm and breezy Father’s Day,
Marsalis Music