Branford Marsalis - Harry and Branford: A Duo Occasion

Harry and Branford: A Duo Occasion
November 2005
  1. Chattanooga Choo Choo
  2. Brown World
  3. Occasion
  4. Valentine's Day
  5. Good to Be Home
  6. Virgoid
  7. I Like Love More
  8. Spot
  9. Steve Lacy
  10. Light The Way
  11. Chanson du Vieux Carré
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Pianist Harry Connick, Jr. and saxophonist Branford Marsalis are old friends who regularly
surprise the music world with their eclectic tastes and ability to deliver in a variety of idioms.
When the pair got together to record Occasion from Marsalis Music’s Connick on Piano
series, the setting may have been unexpected, but the results were typically challenging and
satisfying. After the positive response that Occasion received upon its spring 2005 release,
further encounters by the pair were inevitable. One particularly memorable set, from the
duo’s world premiere appearance at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, has been captured by award-winning director Pierre Lamoureux on Harry and Branford: A Duo Occasion, a new DVD
from Marsalis Music.

The pair, who first met when Connick began taking piano lessons at age nine from Marsalis’
father Ellis, have long formed a mutual admiration society. “Harry is a true musician,” says the saxophonist. “He has a massive amount of information that he’s dealing with, so he is
very comfortable wherever a song goes. Great music is like leaping off a cliff, but some
musicians will only go to the precipice. Harry just jumps, which is why playing with him is
very liberating.”

For his part, Connick insists that “Branford brings the level up when we play together. His
experiences are so vast, and so different from mine, that he always inspires me. Occasion was raw, naked music, and Branford forces you to get to that naked place because he has no inhibitions. As a result, we could play without preparing beginnings, middles or endings.
We didn’t have a blueprint.”

The fearless and intimate performances that resulted over three days of recording in March 2005 were a revelation to fans of both musicians, and inspired Connick and Marsalis to convene again for select concert performances that began at this year’s Ottawa Jazz Festival. As luck would have it, the second of two sets the pair played at that June 24 debut was special. “You always hope to capture a magical moment when you perform,” Connick explains, “but you can’t plan it. On our second Ottawa set, though, there were moments on each tune.”

That stunning performance, which includes ten compositions from the CD plus Connick’s
“Light the Way” and the standard “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” was captured on high definition video by Pierre Lamoureux, the celebrated director who has previously been heralded for his work with Connick on Only You in Concert, which won an Emmy, and with Marsalis for the Marsalis Music DVD Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in Amsterdam, which took honors for both audio quality and music at the DVD Excellence Awards. What results is a concert document that is both musically and visually exceptional.

Through their recent efforts as Gulf Coast and New Orleans honorary chairmen, respectively,
of Habitat for Humanity’s Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford
Marsalis have proven themselves to be among the music world’s leaders off the bandstand as well as on. Harry and Branford: A Duo Occasion finds them in the same elevated place as
 performers.

Other Releases by Branford Marsalis

Four MFs Playin' Tunes
Branford Marsalis
2012

Branford Marsalis           saxophones
Joey Calderazzo             piano
Eric Revis                       bass
Justin Faulkner              drums
  

…the album is a knockout: hard nosed and hyperacute, tradition minded but modern, defined by the high-wire grace of his working band.” -Nate Chinen, New York Times
Read more »

Songs of Mirth and Melancholy
Branford Marsalis
2011

Branford Marsalis - Saxophones
Joey Calderazzo - Piano

Few contemporary pairings of saxophonist and pianist have been as inspired and productive as that of Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo.  Since replacing the late Kenny Kirkland in Marsalis’ quartet in 1998, Calderazzo has blended seamlessly into the uncompromising creative atmosphere of the ensemble and revealed new facets of his own conception, while Marsalis in turn has been inspired by the pianist’s challenging instrumental support and growing strength as a composer.  The relationship grows ever deeper, as documented on the new Marsalis Music CD Songs of Mirth and Melancholy. Read more »

Metamorphosen
Branford Marsalis
2009

Branford Marsalis - Saxophones
Joey Calderazzo - Piano
Eric Revis - Bass
Jeff “Tain” Watts - Drums

Time flies when you are making great music, as Branford Marsalis will be the first to attest. “I had no idea that two years had passed since we made our last album,” says the celebrated saxophonist, composer, producer and leader of the Branford Marsalis Quartet. The realization prompted a simple charge to Quartet members Joey Calderazzo, Eric Revis and Jeff “Tain”Watts. Read more »

Braggtown
Branford Marsalis
2006

Over the course of its life - and most particularly on its previous Marsalis Music scs - the Branford Marsalis Quartet has revealed an ability to express every kind of emotion, including an informed sense of history (on the label-launching Footsteps of Our Fathers in 2002 and the 2004 DVD Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ Live in Amsterdam), a sensitivity to other artistic disciplines (Romare Bearden Revealed from 2003) and a profound sense of intimacy that stretched the concept of a “ballads album” (2004’s Eternal). Read more »

A Love Supreme Live In Amsterdam
Branford Marsalis
2004

For Marsalis Music’s second DVD release, label founder Branford Marsalis and his quartet have been captured in a complete performance of John Coltrane’s 1964 masterpiece A Love Supreme. This legendary suite, which tenor saxophonist Marsalis included on his label’s premier release, Footsteps of Our Fathers, was performed at Amsterdam’s Bimhuis during a European tour in March 2003. Read more »

Eternal
Branford Marsalis
2004

Many musicians create collections of ballads to serve as background listening in one-dimensional moods. Branford Marsalis is an uncommon musician, however and Eternal is no ordinary ballad album. The new CD, Branford’s third on his Marsalis Music label, will be released on September 14. Read more »

Romare Bearden Revealed
Branford Marsalis
2003

Branford Marsalis Quartet
Branford Marsalis  saxophones
Joey Calderazzo  piano
Eric Revis  bass
Jeff “Tain” Watts  drums

Special Guests
Harry Connick, Jrpiano
 Delfeayo Marsalis  trombone
Ellis Marsalis  piano
Jason Marsalis  drums
 Wynton Marsalis  trumpet
Reginald Veal  bass
Doug Wamble  guitar

Jazz musicians have frequently inspired and been inspired by visual artists; but the interchange has never been more direct and intense than on Romare Bearden Revealed. This disc, comprised entirely of newly recorded music, was produced by saxophonist Branford Marsalis in celebration of “The Art of Romare Bearden,” a major retrospective that opened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 2003. Read more »