Branford Marsalis Quartet: l. In an age when athletes, politicians and public figures have all been schooled in the art of saying nothing but innocuous platitudes intended to offend no one and reveal nothing, the three-time Grammy winner unapologetically speaks his mind. A veritable quote machine, he spews pointed statements like a verbal Gatling gun. Being approachable, talkative and extremely opinionated makes Marsalis an ideal interview subject.
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More options Branford Marsalis is one of the best known jazz saxophone players of the United States. He has performed also in rock, funk, and popular idioms, as well as classical.
Marsalis was born into what emerged as one of the royal families of American jazz. He is one of three musician sons the others are Wynton, and Delfeayo born to Ellis Marsalis, a well known jazz pianist in New Orleans. Ellis Marsalis was not a traditional or "Dixieland" performer, but instead was a leader of the progressive jazz scene that helped keep jazz up-to-date in the town of its birth.
Ellis Marsalis valued thorough musical knowledge and saw to it that his sons got technical and theoretical training in music -- the kind of instruction that as a kind of shorthand is often called "classical training. He was 15 when he decided to switch over to the saxophone as his main interest. When Branford was little, his mother gave him a Disney record that included Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.
He found a mentor there in the legendary New Orleans jazz player Alvin Batiste, who insisted the boy transfer to the Berklee College of Music in Boston to gain the greatest possible range of technical skills. From the age of 20, Marsalis began to play professionally. He took on popular and rock session work that included playing with the Grateful Dead, Tina Turner, and many others, and collaborated with the British rocker Sting on three albums, establishing himself as one of the best-known jazz artists in the world.
A job as the bandleader on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno made him a household word, although viewers could see artistic frustration growing on his part as he tried to engage in the kind of Doc Severinsen or Paul Shaffer banter expected on U.
Marsalis left after two years. He also experimented with funk playing under the pseudonym Buckshot LeFonque, previously used by sax legend Cannonball Adderley.
Marsalis made a classical album early in his career, but has expressed dissatisfaction with that early effort.
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