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Branford Marsalis

 

 

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Branford Marsalis was born in 1960 in New Orleans.  He was the oldest of six sons of jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis.  He started playing piano at 4 years old and a few years later took up the clarinet.  At 15, he started playing the alto saxophone. 

When he was 16, his 15 year old brother Wynton asked him to be in his band.  He went to college at Southern University and then transferred to the Berklee of School of Music.  In 1980, playing baritone saxophone, he joins a big band formed by Art Blakey, and tours Europe.  He also worked with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and with Clark Terry during college.  

In 1983, he joined his brother and played on Wynton's debut record.  After recording another record with Wynton, he recorded his debut in 1984.  The next year, he left Wynton's group to join a group of rock star Sting, formerly of the Police.  When Marsalis informed Sting that the best musicians he knows play jazz, Sting also brought on Kenny Kirkland (piano - also from Wynton's group), Darrell Jones (bassist from Miles Davis' group), and Omar Hakim on drums (from Weather Report).  After recording Sting's debut solo album, Marsalis records a classical record in London.  He later records another classical record that stays in the top 5 of Billboard magazine's classical chart for 2 months.

In 1987 he receives a Grammy nomination for "Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist,"  in the following years, he received many Grammy nominations and won in 1993; he worked with a wide variety of artists in different fields from Bruce Hornsby to the Grateful Dead.   He recorded the soundtracks for the Spike Lee's jazz movie Mo' Better Blues (good soundtrack, by the way!)  He also toured with his own band, featuring Kirkland and Jeff "Tain" Watts, selling out many venues,

In 1992, he became the host of "Jazzset, a weekly show on National Public Radio.  The show features live performances from various jazz artists at some of the country's top venues.  That same year, he took over as musical director and arranger of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Afterwards, he formed a hip-hop group called Buckshot LeFonque (named after a pseudonym used by Cannonball Adderly).  His music with this group includes sampling, rap, and a DJ.

He continues to record a wide variety of projects in many different genres.


For more information on Branford Marsalis, check out these sites:

The functional family - info on Branford, Wynton, and Ellis Marsalis.
Branford Marsalis - from Sony.   Official site?

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