Branford Marsalis (born August 26, 1960) is an American saxophonist, composer and bandleader. While primarily known for his work in jazz as the leader of the Branford Marsalis Quartet, he also performs frequently as a soloist with classical ensembles and has led the group Buckshot LeFonque.
Marsalis performing in 2011
|Born||August 26, 1960|
|Genres||Jazz, post-bop, classical|
|Instruments||Tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone, alto saxophone|
|Associated acts||Wynton Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Jason Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, Jr., Joey Calderazzo, Eric Revis, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Kenny Kirkland, DJ Premier, Sting, The Tonight Show Band, Kevin Eubanks, Anna Maria Jopek, Harry Connick, Jr., Matt Finders, Bruce Hornsby, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, Guru (rapper), Buckshot LeFonque, Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band|
Marsalis was born in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, the son of Dolores (née Ferdinand), a jazz singer and substitute teacher, and Ellis Louis Marsalis, Jr., a pianist and music professor. His brothers Jason Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, and Delfeayo Marsalis are also jazz musicians.
In mid-1980, while still a Berklee College of Music student, Marsalis toured Europe playing alto and baritone saxophone in a large ensemble led by drummer Art Blakey. Other big band experiences with Lionel Hampton and Clark Terry followed over the next year, and by the end of 1981 Marsalis, on alto saxophone, had joined his brother Wynton in Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Other performances with his brother, including a 1981 Japanese tour with Herbie Hancock, led to the formation of his brother Wynton's first quintet, where Marsalis shifted his emphasis to soprano and tenor saxophones. He continued to work with Wynton until 1985, a period that also saw the release of his own first recording, Scenes in the City, as well as guest appearances with other artists including Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie
In 1985, he joined Sting, singer and bassist of rock band the Police, on his first solo project, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, alongside jazz and session musicians Omar Hakim on drums, Darryl Jones on the bass and Kenny Kirkland on keyboards. He became a regular in Sting's line-up both in the studio and live up until the release of Brand New Day in 1999.
In 1994, Marsalis appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic in African American society, was named Album of the Year by Time.
In 1988, Marsalis co-starred in the Spike Lee film School Daze, also rendering several horn-blowing interludes for the music in the film. His witty comments have pegged him to many memorable one-liners in the film.
From 1992 to 1995, Branford was the leader of the Tonight Show Band on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Initially, he turned down the offer, but later reconsidered and accepted the position. He was succeeded as bandleader by guitarist Kevin Eubanks.
Between 1990 and 1994, Branford played with the Grateful Dead several times.
With original member Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums, bassist Eric Revis replaced Hurst in 1997, while pianist Joey Calderazzo became a member after Kirkland's death the following year. The Branford Marsalis Quartet has toured and recorded extensively, receiving a Grammy in 2001 for the album Contemporary Jazz. For two decades Marsalis was associated with Columbia, where he served as creative consultant and producer for jazz recordings between 1997 and 2001, including signing saxophonist David S. Ware for two albums.
In 2002, Marsalis founded his own label, Marsalis Music. Its catalogue includes Claudia Acuña, Harry Connick Jr., Doug Wamble, Miguel Zenón, in addition to albums by members of the Marsalis family.
Marsalis has also become involved in college education, with appointments at Michigan State (1996–2000), San Francisco State (2000–2002), and North Carolina Central University (2005–present). After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr., working with the local Habitat for Humanity, created Musicians Village in New Orleans, with the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music the centerpiece. In 2012, Marsalis and Connick received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.
In September 2006, Branford Marsalis was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music. During his acceptance ceremony, he was honored with a tribute performance featuring music from throughout his career.
Under the direction of conductor Gil Jardim, Branford Marsalis and members of the Philharmonia Brasileira toured the United States in the fall of 2008, performing works by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, arranged for solo saxophone and orchestra. This project commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the revered Brazilian composer s death.
Branford Marsalis and the members of his quartet joined the North Carolina Symphony for American Spectrum, released in February 2009 by Sweden's BIS Records. The album showcases Marsalis and the orchestra performing a range of American music by Michael Daugherty, John Williams, Ned Rorem and Christopher Rouse, while being conducted by Grant Llewellyn.
Marsalis was nominated for and won a 2010 Drama Desk Award in the category "Outstanding Music in a Play" and was also nominated for a 2010 Tony Award in the category of "Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre" for his participation in the Broadway revival of August Wilson's Fences.
On July 14, 2010, Marsalis made his debut with the New York Philharmonic on Central Park's Great Lawn. Led by conductor Andrey Boreyko, Marsalis and the New York Philharmonic performed Glazunov's "Concerto for Alto Saxophone" and Schuloff's "Hot-Sonate for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra." Boreyko, Marsalis and the Philharmonic performed the same program again in Vail, CO later that month and four more times at Avery Fisher Hall in New York, NY the following February.
In June 2011, after working together for over 10 years in a band setting, Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo released their first duo album titled Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, on Branford's label, Marsalis Music. Their world premiere performance was on June 29, 2011 in Koerner Hall at the 2011 TD Toronto Jazz Festival.
In 2012, Branford Marsalis released Four MFs Playin' Tunes on deluxe 180-gram high definition vinyl, prior to Record Store Day 2012 on April 21, 2012. This is the first recording of the Branford Marsalis Quartet with drummer Justin Faulkner, who joined the band in 2009 and was the first vinyl release from Marsalis Music. The CD and digital release of Four MFs Playin' Tunes followed on August 7, 2012. Vinyl purchases came with a download card that enabled purchasers to receive a free digital copy when it was released. The album was named Apple iTunes Best of 2012 Instrumental Jazz Album of the Year.
In June 2012, Marsalis, alongside friend and fellow New Orleans native Harry Connick, Jr., was honored by the Jefferson Awards for Public Service for his work in the Musicians' Village of New Orleans.
On March 26, 2013, Branford Marsalis received the degree of Doctor of Arts Leadership, honoris causa from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota.
In 2019 Marsalis released The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul, which he recorded in Australia by with his quartet. Marsalis, commenting on the longevity of his band and their approach said, ahead of the album's release: '“Staying together allows us to play adventurous, sophisticated music and sound good. Lack of familiarity leads to defensive playing, playing not to make a mistake. I like playing sophisticated music, and I couldn’t create this music with people I don’t know.”
Branford Marsalis- The Soundillusionist. Documentary. Germany 2016, 88 min. HD Stereo Language: English. Directed by Reinhold Jaretzky. Produced by Zauberbergfilm, Berlin, Germany.
For the first time in the program's 29-year history, in addition to four individual awards, the NEA will present a group award to the Marsalis family, New Orleans' venerable first family of jazz.
| The Tonight Show bandleader
A Duo Occasion is live performance DVD with Harry Connick Jr. on piano and Branford Marsalis on saxophone(s). Recorded at the Library and Archives Canada as part of the 25th Anniversary of the Ottawa Jazz Festival on June 24, 2005.
The performance contains music from the album Occasion : Connick on Piano, Volume 2, except "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and "Light The Way".Braggtown
Braggtown is an album released by The Branford Marsalis Quartet in 2006.
The album, following the 2004 Grammy-nominated Eternal, draws upon a world of inspirations, including John Coltrane, a 17th-century English composer, an American Indian Warrior and a Japanese horror film. Marsalis chose some of the new songs from the band's current repertoire, with an emphasis on what he describes as "that kind of high-energy music we've been playing in live performance."
This album was named after Braggtown, a neighborhood located in the northeastern corner of Durham, North Carolina, as Marsalis has been a resident of the Durham area for the past few years.
The cover of the album shows the four musicians in a locker room in the baseball stadium Durham Bulls Athletic Park.Branford Marsalis Quartet
The Branford Marsalis Quartet is a jazz band.Buckshot LeFonque (album)
Buckshot LeFonque is the eponymous debut album of Branford Marsalis's jazz/hip-hop/rock group. Creating a new hybrid sound, It peaked at number 38 on the Heatseekers Billboard chart and number 94 on the R&B Albums chart.In his AllMusic review, Richard Ginell calls the album "a breakthrough… a marvelously playful and, above all, musical fusion of the old jazz verities and newer currents swirling around the 1990s." David Hajdu's Entertainment Weekly review was more harsh, saying, "The gimmick betrays a project of iffy conviction" and calling the project "old-fashioned," "uninspired," and "all too serious." And People Magazine wrote, "Buckshot Lefonque goes from being a cool idea to be-coming cool music only when Branford and crew let hip hop's noise erupt."Contemporary Jazz (Branford Marsalis album)
Contemporary Jazz is a jazz album by the Branford Marsalis Quartet, featuring Branford Marsalis, Eric Revis, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and Joey Calderazzo which was recorded on December 1–4, 1999 at Bearsville Sound Studios in New York, New York.Crazy People Music
Crazy People Music is a jazz album featuring the Branford Marsalis Quartet, led by saxophonist Branford Marsalis and featuring Kenny Kirkland, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and Robert Hurst. It was recorded January 10, February 18, and March 1, 1990 at RCA Studios in New York, New York. It peaked at number 3 on the Top Jazz Albums chart. It was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1990 for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist.Scott Yanow notes in his AllMusic review, "It's an impressive group… ['The Ballad of Chet Kincaid'] would catch on to a general audience, but on the others Marsalis is heard throughout in prime form, sounding more original and pushing himself."Several critics point to Crazy People Music as a turning point for Marsalis. Nate Chinen of Jazz Times called the album the "first major statement" of Marsalis's new quartet, and Paul Wells wrote in 2014 that the album was when "the band's vision coalesced." Marsalis himself notes, "Crazy People Music was kind of a breakthrough record. We were starting to pull away from the typical post-bop stuff. We weren't really free of it yet…"Creation (Branford Marsalis album)
Creation is a classical music album by Branford Marsalis with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Focused on 20th century French classical music, this second classical album from Marsalis, coming 15 years after his earlier Romances for Saxophone, was recorded March 9 – 11, 2000 at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City.Eternal (Branford Marsalis album)
Eternal is an album by saxophonist Branford Marsalis recorded at Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown, New York in October 2003. It peaked at number 9 on the Top Jazz Albums chart.The Allmusic review by Matt Collar states, "Eternal finds saxophonist Branford Marsalis in a contemplative mood performing a mix of original and standard ballads... dedicated in memory to a list of people one can only assume were as influential musically on Marsalis as emotionally. Among them are bassist Malachi Favors, drummer Elvin Jones, saxophonist Steve Lacy, and the one and only Ray Charles. Their spirits are palpable here as Marsalis and his band have clearly documented a handful of quietly beautiful and deeply moving performances".Footsteps of Our Fathers
Footsteps of Our Fathers is a jazz album by the Branford Marsalis Quartet, featuring Branford Marsalis, Eric Revis, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and Joey Calderazzo, which was recorded December 1–3, 2001 at Bearsville Sound Studios in New York, New York. Marsalis's first recording for his new label Marsalis Music after 18 years on Sony Music, the album features the quartet's recording of four significant works of jazz from the years 1955 to 1964, including works by Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins (The Freedom Suite), John Coltrane (A Love Supreme), and the Modern Jazz Quartet.I Heard You Twice the First Time
I Heard You Twice the First Time is a jazz album by Branford Marsalis that explores different aspects of the blues, featuring guest appearances from B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Russell Malone, Wynton Marsalis and Linda Hopkins. It peaked at number 1 on the Top Jazz Albums chart. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group.Jeff "Tain" Watts
Jeff "Tain" Watts (born January 20, 1960) is a jazz drummer who has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Betty Carter, Michael Brecker, Alice Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane, Troy Roberts and others. Jeff is a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow in the field of music composition.Joey Calderazzo
Joseph Dominick Calderazzo (born February 27, 1965) is a jazz pianist and brother of musician Gene Calderazzo. He played extensively in bands led by Michael Brecker and Branford Marsalis, and has also led his own bands.Marsalis Music
Marsalis Music is a jazz record label founded by Branford Marsalis in 2002.
After 20 years with Columbia, saxophonist Branford Marsalis left to start his own label. Early musicians to the label included Miguel Zenón, a Puerto Rican saxophonist, Doug Wamble, a guitarist from Tennessee, and Harry Connick Jr., who, like the Marsalis family, is from New Orleans.The catalogue includes The Marsalis Family: A Jazz Celebration, and Music Redeems, the only recorded performances of the father and sons together (father Ellis with sons Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason). The catalogue also includes Romare Bearden Revealed, a tribute to the visual artist created in conjunction with a traveling exhibition of his work curated by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
In 2006, the label inaugurated the Honors Series to pay tribute to underappreciated musicians. The series has featured Michael Carvin, Jimmy Cobb, Bob French, and Alvin Batiste.
Marsalis Music receives distribution and marketing support worldwide from Okeh Records.Random Abstract
Random Abstract is a jazz album by saxophonist Branford Marsalis recorded August 12–13, 1987 at Sound City Studios in Tokyo, Japan. It peaked at number 6 on the Top Jazz Albums chart. It was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1988, Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist (On a Jazz Recording) and Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group.
The AllMusic review by Scott Yanow states, "Branford Marsalis (on tenor and soprano) and his 1987 quartet ... stretch out on a wide repertoire during this generally fascinating set. Very much a chameleon for the date, Marsalis does close impressions of Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, Ben Webster, Ornette Coleman, and Jan Garbarek. This is one of Branford Marsalis' most interesting (and somewhat unusual) recordings."Requiem (Branford Marsalis album)
Requiem is a jazz album by the Branford Marsalis Quartet, featuring Branford Marsalis, Eric Revis, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and Kenny Kirkland. The recording, Kirkland's last before his death in November 1998, was dedicated to his memory. Recorded August 17–20 and December 9–10, 1998 in the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, New York, the album reached Number 8 on the Billboard Top Jazz Albums chart.After several years of recordings in trio and other formats, the Requiem recording reunited Marsalis and Watts with Kirkland, who had been his collaborator on many earlier outings. After the August recording sessions, the quartet took the material on the road, with the goal of returning to the studio after the material had been honed on stage. Following Kirkland's death the remaining players recorded as a trio, capturing the song "Elysium."In his AllMusic review, Richard Ginell says the album "an uncompromising, well-played disc of acoustic jazz that leans a bit toward adventure at times… in what turned out to be the swan song for one of the neo-bop era's finest lineups." Josef Woodard, in Entertainment Weekly called the album an "inspiring set that showcases Marsalis' expressive fluidity and lends a rueful, finalizing punctuation mark to Kirkland's brilliant and too-brief career." Writing for AllAboutJazz.com, Ian Nicolson noted that the album captures "the sound of a hot, creative musician flourishing in a hot, creative environment, captured largely live on analogue 24-track." James Shell's review for JazzReview.com called the work "unquestionably Branford's best to date," noting "its reliance on the Keith Jarrett quartet of the mid-seventies as a model."Romare Bearden Revealed
Romare Bearden Revealed is a jazz album by the Branford Marsalis Quartet, featuring Branford Marsalis, Eric Revis, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and Joey Calderazzo, with guest appearances by Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis, Doug Wamble, Reginald Veal, and other members of the Marsalis family. The album, which was recorded June 23-25, 2003 at Clinton Studios in New York, New York, was recorded in celebration of a retrospective exhibit of the art of Romare Bearden which opened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and subsequently traveled to San Francisco, Dallas, New York and Atlanta in 2004 and 2005. The album recorded jazz tunes whose names Bearden had used for paintings as well as original compositions.The Dark Keys
The Dark Keys is a jazz trio album by the Branford Marsalis Trio, featuring Branford Marsalis, Reginald Veal, and Jeff "Tain" Watts, with guest appearances from Kenny Garrett and Joe Lovano. Recorded July 31 to August 2, 1996 in the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, New York, the album reached Number 9 on the Billboard Top Jazz Albums chart.Trio Jeepy
Trio Jeepy is a jazz album featuring saxophonist Branford Marsalis leading a trio that included notable bassist Milt Hinton. It was recorded January 3-4, 1988 at Astoria Studios in New York, New York. It peaked at number 3 on the Top Jazz Albums chart. It was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1989 for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group.
The AllMusic review by Scott Yanow states, "Branford Marsalis clearly had a lot of fun during this set... The performances are quite spontaneous (the occasional mistakes were purposely left in) and Marsalis really romps on such tunes as "Three Little Words," "Makin' Whoopee," and "Doxy." On the joyful outing that is also one of Branford Marsalis' most accessible recordings, Milt Hinton often steals the show."Wake Up to Find Out
Wake Up to Find Out is a three-CD live album by the rock band the Grateful Dead. It contains the complete concert recorded on March 29, 1990 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. It was released by Rhino Records on September 9, 2014.At this concert, jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis sat in for one song in the first set, and then for the entire second set. The same show was also released on the same day as part of the box set Spring 1990 (The Other One). One of the songs from this performance, "Eyes of the World", was previously released on the album Without a Net.Wake Up to Find Out was released as a five-disc vinyl LP on April 18, 2015, as part of Record Store Day.
|The Tonight Show Band|