Branford Marsalis - Changing Man

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Branford Marsalis Quartet is one of the longest-running most influential jazz groups on the scene today and more important than just longevity, continues to evolve its music, refusing to settle into a comfortable orthodox. The notion of change and challenging audiences is very much to the fore on the new album Metamorphosen and it’s something Branford Marsalis talks to Stuart Nicholson about ahead of dates at the Bath festival and Ronnie Scott’s in May.

It’s 9am on a February morning in Durham, North Carolina. There’s high excitement in the Branford Marsalis household as his children wait to be taken to school by their mom. Down the phone line the background chatter rises. “Excuse a moment,” says Marsalis mid-interview and turning to his kids says: “Quiet please. I’m in the middle of an interview. How can I think with you screaming like banshees behind me?” He pauses. “What was that? Oh, so you’re not screaming banshees you’re whispering banshees!” He bursts out laughing and returns to the interview, picking up the conversation as if there had been no break.

This brief family exchange somehow seemed to sum-up this warm, witty and intelligent man who loves the quick riposte, to banter and debate and who just happens to be one of the greatest jazz saxophonists on this planet. He’s got a new album out called Metamorphosen and he is delighted to talk about it, and just about any other subject under the sun. It’s his sixth album with his group comprising Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums who are currently celebrating their tenth year together. During that time they have, as Marsalis’ website so appositely notes, “evolved from a tradition-centric unit into one of the most adventurous groups in hard-core jazz.”

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #129 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a FREE CD

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