Branford Marsalis, saxophones | Joey Calderazzo, piano | Eric Revis, bass | Justin Faulkner, drums
After four decades in the international spotlight, the achievements of saxophonist Branford Marsalis continue to grow. From his initial recognition as a young jazz lion, he has expanded his vision as an instrumentalist, composer, bandleader and educator, crossing stylistic boundaries while maintaining an unwavering creative integrity. In the process, he has become an avatar of contemporary artistic excellence.
The Branford Marsalis Quartet, first formed in 1986, remains Branford’s primary means of expression. In its virtually uninterrupted three-plus decades of existence, the Quartet has established a rare breadth of stylistic range and a continuity of personnel. The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul, recorded in Australia in 2018, contains the mix of challenging original and classic compositions, and the range of moods from the tender to the explosive, that has defined the group. While the Quartet thrives, Branford continues to expand his status as a musical collaborator that dates back to his early experiences as a sideman with Clark Terry, Art Blakey and his brother Wynton Marsalis and extends through encounters with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock and Harry Connick, Jr.
As always, Branford also remains eager to join in musical ventures with artists in other musical realms. His relationship with Sting, which began with the pop icon’s first solo album The Dream of the Blue Turtles in 1985, was resumed when Branford contributed solos to Sting’s collaboration with reggae star Shaggy, 44/876. Branford’s status among Deadheads dates back to 1990 as the ultimate guest artist with the Grateful Dead.
Classical music also continues to play a growing role in Branford’s musical life. Sally Beamish reconceived her composition “Under the Wing of the Rock” to feature him after hearing Branford interpret another of her works, and Gabriel Prokofiev wrote “The Saxophone Concerto” for Branford on a joint commission from the Naples Philharmonic and the Detroit Symphony. Branford’s contributions to the Broadway stage expanded in 2018 when he scored acclaimed director Kenny Leon’s revival of Children of a Lesser God. His previous efforts included music for Fences, which garnered him a Drama Desk Award and a Tony nomination, The Mountaintop, and the revival of A Raisin in the Sun.
All of these achievements have been supplemented by Branford’s efforts beyond the realms of performance and composition. After directing Columbia Record’s jazz program, he founded the Marsalis Music label in 2002. After the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, Branford joined his friend Harry Connick, Jr. and New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity in the creation of the Musicians’ Village, a community in New Orleans’ Upper Ninth Ward that provides homes to displaced families of musicians and other local residents. The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music provides state-of-the-art performance, instruction and recording spaces at the heart of the Village. For these and other efforts, Branford received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Tulane University in 2017, adding to a series of awards including three Grammys and his citation (together with his father and brothers) as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.