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Branford Marsalis

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(1960- ) Tenor and soprano saxophonist

Branford Marsalis is the brother of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, and son of Ellis Marsalis, who was a pianist in the New Orleans modem bop movement. While attending Southern University, Louisiana, for a year, Marsalis took lessons from Alvin Batiste. He then studied for several years at the Berklee College of Music. After his graduation, he worked for five months with his brother Wynton in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and toured with Clark Terry's orchestra. He spent three years as a member of Wynton's quintet, during which time he also recorded with such musicians as Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis (member of Davis's group in 1984-5), and in 1983 he toured with the quintet V.S.O.P. II. In 1985, he was a founding member of a band led by the English rock singer and electric guitarist Sting, which played a combination of bop, rock, and soul; the other members were Kenny Kirkland, the electric bass guitarist Daryl Jones, and Omar Hakim. Marsalis then worked with his own quartet, achieving popular acclaim in 1987 with a video of his bop version of Royal Garden Blues, in which he played soprano saxophone. Later he renewed his association with Sting for further recordings (1987) and an international tour (1988).

Marsalis is a versatile and skillful performer. In fact, he has also given classical performances with the English Chamber Orchestra. Although initially overshadowed by his brother, he has become a major musical figure in his own right.

The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For personal, non-commercial use only. Copying or other reproduction is prohibited.
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