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The GRAMMY Award-winning New Orleans-based saxophonist and bandleader BRANFORD MARSALIS is “a jazz chameleon…with a swooping tone, supple phrasing, and witty licks.” (AllMusic) He cut his teeth with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and his brother Wynton’s quintet, not to mention guest appearances with Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, before forming his own influential Branford Marsalis Quartet in 1986. His work cuts across genre and medium—his group Buckshot LeFonque merges jazz with rock and hip hop influences, and his work in classical music brings him into concert halls worldwide playing saxophone repertoire with symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles.
In the educational sphere, he has held positions at Michigan State, San Francisco State, and North Carolina Central University. Assertive, precise, and expressive of a timeless yet daring sensibility, the rigor and historical depth of Branford’s music is one of a kind. His two sets tonight bookend ROGER GUENVEUR SMITH’s startling one man show, FREDERICK DOUGLASS NOW, which incorporates elements of slam poetry, rap, and revival minister to recast the words of the runaway slave-turned-abolitionist into a 21st century context and “makes a striking statement about where America has come and still has to go in terms of race.” (LA Times