Sunday, February 22, 2015

Branford Marsalis - Performance & Master Class

If you missed the open rehearsal with YOSA (Youth Orchestra of San Antonio) or the master class at Ruth Taylor Recital Hall, or if you caught those and want to see the musician in action, come to the Tobin Center Sunday, February 22 at 7 PM

Students with valid ID get in for a mere five bucks. This is a chance to take in the splendor of our newest and most prestigious  performing arts venue while hearing a bonafide Jazz Master perform classical music composed for the jazz instrument par excellence, the saxophone. Don't miss it.

In a rambling but straight talking master class at Trinity University, New Orleans saxophonist  Branford Marsalis talked about his royal family and musical journey to an audience of enthralled students and teachers, including A-JAM trombonist Thomas Mullins, on Saturday, February 21.  

His talk was peppered with anecdotes and correctives, including facts about his family. People assume that the Marsalis dynasty is patrilineal, he said. But the musical genes are mainly on his mother's side, he explained. Wellman Braud, the distinguished bassist with Duke Ellington's band, was his mother's kin, for example. 

With so many musicians in his family, people sometimes imagine that it was a non-stop family jam session growing up. But no. With almost seven years between him and his younger brother, there was "no way" he was going to be jamming--in or out of the house--with a ten year-old when he was seventeen, despite what his parents might have wished.  But Branford and his distinguished brother Wynton Marsalis, who were much closer in age, did work and play together.  Growing up, Wynton worked hardest to become the amazing classical trumpeter that he continues to be to this day. If you're not familiar with this side of his work, check out his classical discography. But, of course, we all know him as the man who lead Lincoln Center to become the jazz bastion that it is today. And it was Wynton who first moved to New York, the jazz capitol, and persuaded Branford to join him, which he does not regret.

How to learn songwriting? "Learn every tune ever written," he said, then smiled. "It's all about melodies," he continued. When improvising, he's thinking of melodies, not simply chord progressions.

He doesn't aim to please an audience of 20-something people. Why? "My music is for adults," as he put it. It takes years to develop one's art and craft in jazz. One has to be willing to suffer "humiliation," but not to succumb to defeat; to admit that there are things to learn, and to keep on working to improve.

NEA Jazz Master, renowned Grammy Award®-winning saxophonist and Tony Award® nominee composer Branford Marsalis is one of the most revered instrumentalists of his time.  The three-time Grammy Award® winner has continued to exercise and expand his skills as an instrumentalist, a composer, and the head of Marsalis Music, the label he founded in 2002 that has allowed him to produce both his own projects and those of the jazz world’s most promising new and established artists.

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