An Evening with Branford Marsalis
Monday, April 28
Kuumbwa Jazz Center
“… one of the most cohesive, intense jazz ensembles on the scene.” – New York Times
Branford Marsalis is one of the most recognizable saxophonists around today. His lengthy resume includes performances with an array of stellar musicians ranging from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Sting, Herbie Hancock, the Grateful Dead, and, of course, his famous brother Wynton. A three-time Grammy-winner, Branford is also an award-winning composer and the owner of the Marsalis Music record label. In recent years, he has made in-roads into the classical world as a soloist with major orchestras. His longtime quartet features pianist Joey Calderazzo; bassist Eric Revis; and drummer Justin Faulkner. Their latest recording is Four MFs Playin’ Tunes.
Marsalis was born in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana in 1960, into the family of prominent jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis. The eldest of five boys, four of who became jazz musicians, Branford did not spend much time listening to jazz in his youth. Instead, he was checking out the music of Elton John, Led Zeppelin and James Brown, and playing saxophone in funk bands. It wasn’t until Wynton, who had been touring Europe with Art Blakey, recommended him for the alto spot in Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, that he saw jazz as a path forward. The Marsalis brothers also toured Japan with pianist Herbie Hancock. When Wynton formed the first version of the Wynton Marsalis Quintet, Branford switched to playing tenor and soprano saxophones. In 1985, he released his first solo recording, Scenes in the City, and blazed a trail away from brother Wynton’s over-arching shadow. He was also gaining notoriety in appearances with jazz legends Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. But, as a member of pop star Sting’s first band (after The Police), Branford’s profile was boosted into the pop culture stratosphere. His on-and-off musical association with Sting lasted almost fifteen years. In the late ’80s, Marsalis waded into acting with roles in Spike Lee’s School Daze and Danny Devito’s Throw Momma’ from the Train. In 1992, he was tapped for the bandleader spot on the Tonight Show for Jay Leno. Bored with being a television bandleader, he left Leno in 1995 to focus on music projects, including his funk group Buckshot LeFonque, and as a guest performer with the Grateful Dead.
Branford formed the Branford Marsalis Quartet in 1996. The group has experienced one personnel change in its eighteen-year history: Justin Faulkner replacing Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums in 2009. With Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, Marsalis expands the mainstream jazz vocabulary, a vocabulary informed by six decades of musical evolution in the wake of bebop’s emergence. The quartet’s long-time stable line up, somewhat unique in the jazz world, allows for an almost ESP-like improvisational exchange between its players without sacrificing spontaneity. Wherever the group’s musical sojourn takes them, the audience is in for an interesting ride.
An Evening with Branford Marsalis
DATE: Monday, April 28, 2014
VENUE: Kuumbwa Jazz Center
ADDRESS: 320 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
TIMES: 7:00 and 9:00 PM
PRICE: $35/Adv $40/Door; No Comps
TICKETS: Logos Books & Records, 1117 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz (831) 427-5100 and online at: http://kuumbwajazz.org
MORE INFO: http://kuumbwajazz.org or 831-427-2227
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