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Music legends, past and present, take center stage this week
Publication: Louisiana Weekly
Author: Geraldine Wyckoff
Date: December 7, 2015
Branford Marsalis Quartet + Kurt Elling – Four Big Nights
It is difficult to believe that the last time saxophonist Branford Marsalis headlined at Snug Harbor, New Orleans most prestigious modern jazz mecca, was circa 1984. At that time, Marsalis, who appears at the club for a unprecedented four-night stand (December 10 through December 13), co-led a group that was put together by the late Earl Turbinton and included the legendary “Big” Nick Nicholas. Dubbed “Three Generations of Jazz Saxophone,” Turbinton’s aim, it is said, was to illustrate how influences shape the jazz world. Nicholas’ blowing (he’s the guy taking the sax solo on Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca”) affected Turbinton and thus the heritage was passed on to Marsalis.
Of course, Marsalis, a New Orleans native now residing in North Carolina, has stood on stage at the Frenchmen Street club since then but only to sit in most often with his father, pianist Ellis Marsalis. For these dates, the three-time, Grammy-winning saxophonist is bringing in his entire, highly-regarded Branford Marsalis Quartet with longtime pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner. The world-renowned vocalist Kurt Elling will join the group as a special guest. Elling, a Chicago native who also claims multiple awards, is truly a dynamic jazz singer and noted for his unique vocalese and scatting. The musicians are all coming to New Orleans to record an album.
Considering that in 2009 Elling released an album dedicated to the teaming of legendary saxophonist John Coltrane and vocalist Billy Hartman and the resulting classic album, his appreciation of the matching of sax and voice should make his performance with Marsalis an especially good one.