Q&A: Branford Marsalis
Celebrated and versatile saxophonist and jazz personality Branford Marsalis always delivers an impact filled musical statement. Whether he is performing solo or leading his stellar quartet, playing with Sting or doing a hip-hop thing, Branford is on a very short list of artists who can authentically adapt his musical voice and bring a jazz sensibility to any context. He is a genuine talent, gifted advocate for jazz and a very funny guy. We asked him five questions (well, six really) and here’s his responses.
How or when did you first “discover” jazz?
Since my father is a jazz musician, I guess I discovered it when I was in my mother’s womb.
Do you remember the first recording you ever purchased (jazz or otherwise)?
I went to the local five and dime store and purchased two LP’s: Elton John’s Honky Chateau and Cheech and Chong’s The Big Bambu.
Name one of your greatest creative influences and why?
Gustav Mahler. I am a fan of all musicians who use their understanding of musical tradition to advance the idiom.
What made you decide to become a musician?
I think that decision was made for me by God. I tried most of my young life to do something other than music, but everything kept pointing back to it.
What is the best thing about playing jazz?
The intensity of it. And the freedom to control the destiny of a song in real time.
Bonus Q: What is your favorite escape?
Golf. But the way I play, there is no escape.
Photo credit: Palma Kolansky