Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts, University of Maryland College Park- Friday (February 15, 2013), show time: 8pm; tickets: sold out (but check website for last minute availability)
NEA Jazz Master, three-time Grammy Award winner, Tony Award nominee, record label executive, composer, actor, educator and eldest of the famed Marsalis brothers’ clan, Branford Marsalis, will perform along with his quartet on Friday night at the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
Having established himself as a household name due in part to working relationships with the likes of Sting, Spike Lee, and Jay Leno, Marsalis has had the kind of career that his former aspiring school-teacher self never imagined.
Born and raised in New Orleans, LA, to Ellis and Delores Marsalis, the young Marsalis left the safety net of his hometown as well as the comforts of life with his parents and five younger brothers to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. While still a student at Berklee, Marsalis had an opportunity to work with jazz legends such as Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, and Herbie Hancock before eventually leaving school to work with the great Art Blakey.
Before his longstanding professional relationships with Sting and Jay Leno began, Marsalis worked with his younger brother Wynton, performing on some of Wynton’s most celebrated recordings including Black Codes (from the Underground), Hot House Flowers and Think of One. It was as part of Wynton’s band that Branford would establish a working relationship with musicians who would later make up the first version of his own famed quartet—drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, bassist Bob Hurst, and pianist Kenny Kirkland. Following Hurst’s departure in 1997 and Kirkland’s passing in 1998, Marsalis and Tain continued to work together, rounding out the quartet with pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis, until 2009. After performing together for more than 20 years, Tain left Marsalis’s quartet to focus on his own solo pursuits. That year a then eighteen-year-old Justin Faulkner stepped into Tain’s large shoes as he assumed drumming responsibilities for the quartet. Now, more than three years later, Marsalis, Revis, Calderazzo, and Faulkner are touring in support of the group’s newest recording, Four MF’s Playin’ Tunes. This recording, Faulkner’s first with the group, has received rave reviews since its August 2012 release.
Throughout his career, Marsalis has also performed with classical orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, and the Symphony orchestras of Chicago, North Carolina, and Detroit even recording two classical albums under his own name: 1986’s Romances for Saxophones and 2001’s Creation.
In 2010, he was invited to score his first Broadway play, a revival of August Wilson’s Fences, which won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music in A Play.
Whether it’s jazz, pop, rock, or through acting, it is clear that Marsalis embodies the word artist, embracing creativity in its various forms.
Tonight’s performance is sold out, but check the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s website for last minute availability. http://claricesmithcenter.umd.edu/events/2013/evening-branford-marsalis
The concert will be preceded by a discussion with David C. Driskell about jazz’s influence on African America visual artists. That discussion will begin at 6:30pm and is free and open to the public.
Hilton Hotel (Rockville, MD)- Friday through Sunday (February 15-17, 2013), all day; tickets: prices vary
The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival returns to the Hilton Hotel on Rockville Pike with a line-up of talent and events that is sure to please even the most discerning jazz fan. Among the performers at this year’s festival are Orrin Evans (tonight, 7:30pm), Gregory Porter (tonight, 8:30pm), Todd Marcus, Don Byron, Carmen Bradford, Helen Sung, Sharon Clark, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Bobby Watson, Joey DeFrancesco, Larry Willis, and Paul Carr.
Go to http://www.midatlanticjazzfestival.org/ for the full schedule and for ticket information.