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Branford Marsalis Quartet at Max Fisher Music Center

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Branford Marsalis Quartet Max Fisher Music Center Detroit, MI October 11, 2013 The Branford Marsalis Quartet is arguably the best small unit working in jazz these days, as proven by the performance of the BMQ in Detroit. This concert was the opening event for the superb jazz series presented by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The emcee for the concert just happened to be renowned trumpeter and (Marsalis home-boy) Terence Blanchard, who unbeknownst to the audience was to be a participant in the evening's show. Marsalis is well known ...

INTERVIEWS

Branford Marsalis: Confident MF Playin’ Tunes

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Musicians evolve, and so do bands, if they're allowed to stay together long enough to develop their musical relationships--that certain chemistry. Such is the case with Branford Marsalis, the outstanding saxophonist who has been through so much in his storied career. It's also the case with his band, which he has kept together, with few personnel changes, for more than a decade. They are a tight unit that continues to ripen.That band, and its saxophonist, are going as strong as ever. While controversies in jazz music, real or media contrived, materialize and dissipate like weather systems, Marsalis always ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Four MFs Playin' Tunes

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Saxophonist Branford Marsalis has always exhibited a straight-to-the-point attitude in his deeds and musical actions, so the title for his latest quartet date shouldn't come as a great shock. His choice of words matter-of-factly proclaims that this music isn't about highbrow ideals, umbrella themes or hyper-intellectual constructs; this is about four musicians making music and serving the songs. Jazz aficionados know that his albums are almost always a sure bet for brilliance, but fans of this highly regarded unit may come to this record with trepidation since they're still bemoaning the departure of longtime drummer Jeff “Tain" ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Four MFs Playin' Tunes

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The departure of the Branford Marsalis quartet's longtime drummer, Jeff “Tain" Watts, left a hole that would not easily be filled and subsequently sparked the excellent 2011 duo release Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (Marsalis Music) featuring Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo. But that percussive void has been filled with a transfusion of new blood from the sizzling drums of Justin Faulkner who joined the band in 2009 aged 18. With the attention grabbing title and a fresh outlook, the four musicians have rebounded nicely to deliver some fervent jazz on Four MFs Playin' Tunes. Faulkner's skills ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Branford Marsalis / Joey Calderazzo: Songs of Mirth and Melancholy

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The Swedish proverb “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow," is one that perfectly exemplifies Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, from saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo. Their bond has solidified over time, since Calderazzo took over the piano chair from the late Kenny Kirkland in Marsalis' ensemble in 1998. While Kirkland's talent can never be replaced, Calderazzo has proven his own deep abilities as a vital member of the band--and in his own recordings. Marsalis' voice is commanding in any aspect, whether playing or speaking frankly about the music environment, and continues to ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Branford Marsalis / Terence Blanchard Quintet: Jazz at Lincoln Center, October 1, 2010

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Branford Marsalis QuartetTerence Blanchard QuintetJazz at Lincoln CenterOctober 1, 2010 Early in their set, after striding on stage in stylish suits, The Branford Marsalis Quartet--pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Justin Faulkner--began peeling off their shirt jackets. The stage lights must have been especially too much for Faulkner, who, within only a few moments of the first tune, was drenched in sweat. Marsalis smiled and seemed to playfully admonish him for removing his garment, but soon his jacket also disappeared, as well as the rest of the bands' in no time. They ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Metamorphosen

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Branford Marsalis has always had contrarian tendencies. From joining Sting's band to quitting The Tonight Show, he's followed his own path, even when his motivations have moved him away from conventional jazz forms. Today, being the artistic director of his own record label (at a time when record labels are floundering) and playing with the same band mates for the last decade (at a time when keeping anything together for 10 years seems unlikely) simply appear to be the next steps in an atypical career. Adding to the Branford Marsalis Quartet's uniqueness is the fact that on ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Branford Marsalis Demonstrates Leadership in Richmond

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Branford Marsalis Quartet Building Leaders Symposium at St. Christopher's School Richmond, VA April 12, 1008

With legendary musicians right in front of their eyes, a field house filled with people of all ages and all musical backgrounds watched as Branford Marsalis and his quartet donned the stage. For some, this was the first jazz they had ever heard. For others, this was a rare event not to be missed. The event was a leadership conference entitled “Building Leaders From the Inside Out," located at St. Christopher's private school in the suburban West End. The ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Ottawa Jazz Festival Day 1: June 21, 2007

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11

While the Ottawa International Jazz Festival, sponsored by the The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), has always taken pride in the breadth of its programming without deviating from a near-exclusive focus on the jazz spectrum, it faces the same annual harsh reality of other festivals devoted to the genre. Supporting a multifaceted program of lesser-known and up-and-coming artists can make it necessary to bring in acts that are, at ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Portland Jazz Festival, Day 1: February 16, 2007

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

February may seem like an odd time to have a jazz festival in the Pacific Northwest, but in many ways the Portland Jazz Festival is held at the perfect time. The weather may be damp, but compared to the Northeast, it's a relatively balmy 50-60 degrees. In four short years, Artistic Director Bill Royston and Managing Director Sarah Bailen Smith have created a festival that is international in nature yet retains its focus on the city's vibrant local music scene at a time when clubs seem to be closing weekly in other ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Braggtown

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On his fourth release for his own Marsalis Music label, Branford Marsalis shows why his quartet is among the best small groups currently active. With pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Jeff “Tain Watts joining him once more, Marsalis encouraged his musicians to write for the band, resulting in a wide range of fresh material for the session. The leader's “Jack Baker is a swirling theme built from a repeated riff, while Calderazzo's poignant ballad “Hope builds slowly in intensity in an extended workout, with Marsalis switching to soprano sax. Marsalis also utilizes the smaller ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Branford Marsalis: Braggtown

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From the opening anthem, called out on the unaccompanied saxophone by a swaggering Branford Marsalis, you know that Braggtown is going to be a ride. And when Jeff “Tain" Watts explodes on the cymbals a few beats later, you know the ride is going to be in a fast car on a winding mountain road. This is jazz that makes your hair stand up on the back of your neck and your head move involuntarily, pulled back and forth by the propulsive rhythms and the commanding compositions.Sting. There, it still needs to be said and remembered. This is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Branford Marsalis: Braggtown

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Branford Marsalis continues to push jazz in the directions that this art should seek for eternity. Never satisfied with achievements from the past, he's determined to make things new and positive happen every time out. With Braggtown, he's on fire.

Jazz's modern mainstream fights with a furious approach. It demands that the artist remain honest about his motive. Sure, there's room in the field for many other options, but the path that holds the most promise for our future is that of creativity. New ideas spark newer ones.

With Braggtown, Marsalis brings his mature quartet into ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Braggtown

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There's a huge difference between live jazz performances and studio jazz recordings. Neatly concise pieces that thrill on record can feel overly cautious on the stage, and stretched-out open forms that make audiences hoarse from cheering can simply be boring on CD. That's not to say that the only good jazz recordings feature tight arrangements and brief solos. There is, however, a deep and real divide between the two presentations, and on record, less can be more.Once in a while, though, more is more. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis' Braggtown, with his longstanding quartet of pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric ...



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