HILLSIDE — Gene & Shelley Enlow Recital Hall at Kean University presents Branford Marsalis & Joey Calderazzo with the Branford Marsalis Quartet on Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Performing selections from his recently released album, “Songs of Mirth and Melancholy,” this unique presentation of duo and quartet features Marsalis’ spectacular collaboration with longtime Quartet pianist, Joey Calderazzo as well as pieces by the entire quartet.
NEA Jazz Master, renowned Grammy Award winning saxophonist and Tony Award nominee Branford Marsalis is one of the most revered instrumentalists of our time. He is the leader of one of today’s finest jazz quartets and a frequent soloist with classical ensembles. While still a Berklee College of Music student, Marsalis toured Europe playing alto and baritone saxophone in a large ensemble led by drummer Art Blakey. Other big band experience with Lionel Hampton and Clark Terry followed over the next year, and by the end of 1981 Marsalis, on alto saxophone, had joined his brother Wynton in Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Other performances with his brother, including a Japanese tour with Herbie Hancock, led to the formation of his brother Wynton’s first quintet, where Marsalis shifted his emphasis to soprano and tenor saxophones. He continued to work with Wynton until 1985, a period that also saw the release of his own first recording, Scenes in the City, as well as guest appearances with other artists including Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.
That year he joined Sting, singer and bassist of pop band The Police, on his first solo project, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, alongside other notable jazz and session musicians. He became a regular in Sting’s line-up both in the studio and onstage. In 1994, Marsalis appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s compilation CD, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic in African American society was named “Album of the Year” by Time Magazine.
In 1988, Marsalis co-starred in Spike Lee’s movie, “School Daze,” also rendering several horn-blowing interludes for the music in the film. His witty comments have pegged him to many memorable one-liners in the film. From 1992 to 1995 Branford was the leader of the Tonight Show Band on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The Branford Marsalis Quartet has toured and recorded extensively, receiving a Grammy in 2001 for its album Contemporary Jazz.
Marsalis placed greater emphasis on classical music since the 2001 release of his album Creation. Performances with symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles worldwide have become a significant part of his itinerary, with his most intense period of classical playing in 2008, when Marsalis toured the United States with Philarmonia Brasileira.
Marsalis became involved in education at the university level, with appointments at Michigan State, San Francisco State and North Carolina Central universities (2005–present). After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr. created the concept of a Musicians’ Village in the city’s Upper Ninth Ward, with the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music as the Village’s centerpiece. This project, undertaken by New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity with Marsalis’ and Connick’s active participation, has proven to be one of the most successful recovery efforts in the region, and has already provided dozens of musicians of modest means with the opportunity to own decent, affordable housing.
Marsalis won a 2010 Drama Desk Award in the category “Outstanding Music in a Play” and was also nominated for a 2010 Tony Award in the category of “Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre” for his participation in the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s “Fences.”
In June 2011, after working together for over 10 years in a band setting, Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo released their first duo album titled Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, on Branford’s Marsalis Music label. Their world premiere performance was on June 29, 2011 in Koerner Hall at the 2011 TD Toronto Jazz Festival.
Tickets to Branford Marsalis & Joey Calderazzo with the Branford Marsalis Quartet at Enlow Hall are $55 and can be purchased by calling Kean Stage Box Office at 1-908-737-7469, online at http://enlowhall.kean.edu , or in person at Kean University’s Wilkins Theater Box Office. Enlow Recital Hall is located at 215 North Avenue in Hillside.
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