Branford Marsalis - Home is where the heat is

Something to brag about? Well, that’s what Branford Marsalis would like you to think he has achieved on his latest release Braggtown. A white knuckle ride with drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts punishing his drums time and time again, especially on the tune ‘Blakzilla’ inspired by the music from the Japanese horror film Godzilla. But the latest recording by his seasoned band, whose line up is completed by bassist Eric Revis and pianist Joey Calderazzo, also exposes another melancholic side of Branford’s musical psyche, inspired by the unlikely Teutonic figure of Richard Wagner. Branford Marsalis - Home is where the heat is
As he talks about his new album to Stuart Nicholson Marsalis moves on to broader areas, taking educators to task for concentrating on “pointless technique books” but also encouraging saxophonists to stretch themselves by studying classical music. He moves on to describe how the band has improved exponentially following an active process of self criticism and urges young musicians to listen to Mingus and Miles. 

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis pauses, stretches his arms, and collects his thoughts. He’s relaxing on a plush settee in an exclusive Paris hotel during a press day for his latest album Braggtown, which takes it name from the area in Durham, North Carolina, where he’s lived for the past four years. “This album is for people who truly like music, rather than simply liking to be entertained by music,” he says. “People who listen to music on its own terms, who are eager listeners, will hear us.”

Good looking and in excellent physical shape, he may be approaching his 46th birthday but he looks as if he could give kids more than half his age a run for their money on the basketball court. Casually dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, it’s in sharp contrast to his image as an earnest young man in an immaculate lounge suit who burst on the jazz scene in the early 1980s as a precocious alto saxophonist in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

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