Branford Marsalis

Growing up in New Orleans as the oldest son of pianist and educator, Branford Marsalis was drawn to music along with his siblings. His first instrument, the clarinet, gave way to the saxophone when the teenage Branford began working in local bands. A growing fascination with jazz as he entered college gave him the basic tools to obtain his first major jobs, with trumpet legend Clark Terry and in Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers. In 1986 Branford formed a quartet which has been his primary means of expression. He has also excelled in duets with several major pianists. Classical music inhabits a growing portion of Branford’s musical universe. He is frequently heard with leading symphony orchestras including those in Chicago, Detroit, Dusseldorf and North Carolina as well as the New York Philharmonic. He also served as Creative Director for the Cincinnati Symphony’s Ascent series in 2012-13. Broadway has also welcomed Branford’s contributions. His initial effort, original music for a revival of August Wilson’s Fences, garnered a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music in a Play and a Tony nomination for Best Original Score Written for the Theater. Branford also provided music for The Mountaintop and served as musical curator for the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun. He formed the Marsalis Music label in 2002. He is also an educator, forming extended teaching relationships at Michigan State, San Francisco State and North Carolina Central Universities and conducting workshops at sites throughout the United States and the world. His numerous awards include three Grammys and (together with his father and brothers) his citation as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.