Branford Marsalis

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Branford Marsalis, 2008

Branford Marsalis (* 26. August 1960 in New Orleans ) is an American jazz - saxophonist , composer and music producer.

life and work

Branford Marsalis belongs to the musical Marsalis family, which in addition to father Ellis (piano) also produced the brothers Delfeayo (trombone), Jason (drums) and Wynton (trumpet). He mainly plays tenor and soprano saxophone. In addition to playing with his family, he received his musical training at Berklee College of Music in Boston .

Marsalis began his professional career in 1980 in Art Blakey's Big Band, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and Clark Terry's band . From 1982 to 1985 he played in the group of his brother Wynton Marsalis. Miles Davis engaged him in 1983 to record a piece on the Decoy album . He made his international breakthrough through his collaboration with pop icon Sting (especially with the Englishman title in New York ). After that, other well-known pop musicians such as James Taylor , Tina Turner , Bruce Hornsby and Youssou N'Dour booked him regularly . In 1992 he was a guest soloist on David Murray's album Fast Life .

In addition to numerous jazz albums, he is also successful with his crossover band Buckshot LeFonque and two classical recordings and shows great stylistic versatility. He contributed his saxophone playing to several film scores ( Das Russland-Haus , Sneakers ), and in a particularly fruitful way as a composer for the films by Afro-American director Spike Lee, such as in School Daze (1988), Do the Right Thing (1988) , Mo 'Better Blues (1990), When the Levees Broke (2006).

From 1992 to 1994 he was head of the Tonight Show Band of the American late night talker Jay Leno . He then played the concept album Buckshot LeFonque , which combined jazz with hip-hop , rhythm and blues and rock music. This was followed by a senior position at Columbia Records in New York. The experience there finally prompted him to set up his own record label Marsalis Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2002 . In the 2000s Marsalis increasingly appeared in classical concerts (" serious music ").

Together with Harry Connick Jr. and Habitat for Humanity , he founded the Musicians 'Village project in New Orleans at the end of 2005 in order to resettle musicians who had been taken home by Hurricane Katrina in an artists' colony . The project was supported with benefit concerts and donations. In 2011 a concert and classroom, the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music , opened in the center of the colony . A total of 72 residential buildings were built.

Discography (selection)

  • The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (2019)
  • Upward Spiral (ft. Kurt Elling) (2016)
  • In My Solitude - Live at Grace Cathedral (San Francisco, 2014)
  • Four MFs Playin 'Tunes (Marsalis Music, 2012)
  • Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (2011)
  • Metamorphoses (2009)
  • Braggtown (2006)
  • Eternal (2004)
  • Romare Bearden (2003)
  • Footsteps Of Our Fathers (2002)
  • Requiem (1999, Columbia)
  • Music Evolution (1997, Columbia)
  • Buckshot LeFonque (1994, Columbia) (DE: Gold in Jazz Award)
  • I Heard You Twice The First Time (1992) (DE: Gold im Jazz-Award)
  • Crazy People Music (1990, CBS)
  • Trio Jeepy (1989, Sony BMG)
  • Random Abstract (1988, CBS)
  • Royal Garden Blues (1986)
  • Scenes In The City (1984)


  • 2004: Down Beat Critics Poll winner in the categories: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, jazz album Romare Bearden , rising star producer
  • 2010: ECHO Jazz in the category “Instrumentalist of the Year International - Saxophone / Woodwinds” for Metamorphoses
  • 2020: Nomination for the Grammy Awards 2020 in the two categories Best Improvised Jazz Solo and Best Jazz Instrumental Album .


  • Branford Marsalis. The love of New Orleans. Documentary, Germany, 2012, 52 min., Script and director: Reinhold Jaretzky , production: Zauberberg Film, hr , arte , German first broadcast: March 6, 2013 on arte, synopsis by ARD .
  • Branford Marsalis: The Sound Illusionist. Documentary, Germany, 2016, 88 min., Director: Reinhold Jaretzky , production: Zauberbergfilm Berlin.


  • Ueli Bernays: What sounds good doesn't always sound hip . Interview, in: NZZ , June 4, 2016, p. 23.

Web links

Commons : Branford Marsalis  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files


  1. a b In: Branford Marsalis. The love for New Orleans ( Memento of the original from March 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , arte , March 6, 2013  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ "Branford and Ellis Marsalis join Habitat to announce Musicians' Village" ( Memento of the original from March 23, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Down Beat Magazine , Jan. 30, 2006  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Gold / platinum database of the Federal Music Industry Association, accessed on July 3, 2016
  4. 2020 Grammy Nominations Announced. JazzTimes , November 27, 2019, accessed November 27, 2019 .