Branford Marsalis is a world-renowned saxophonist and composer known for his virtuosity and versatility in both jazz and classical music. He was born on August 26, 1960, in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, into a musical family that included his father, Ellis Marsalis, a pianist and educator, and his brothers Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason, all accomplished musicians in their own right.
Marsalis started playing the clarinet at an early age and later switched to the saxophone. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston and later the Southern University in Baton Rouge. His big break came when he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1980, where he quickly established himself as one of the leading saxophonists of his generation.
In 1985, Marsalis left the Jazz Messengers to form his own band, the Branford Marsalis Quartet, which quickly gained critical acclaim and a loyal following. The Quartet has released numerous albums, including “Scenes in the City,” “Random Abstract,” “Eternal,” and “Contemporary Jazz.”
In addition to his work in jazz, Marsalis has also performed extensively in classical music. He has collaborated with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the English Chamber Orchestra.
Marsalis is also a prolific composer, having written music for both jazz and classical ensembles. His works have been performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, among others.
Marsalis has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career, including three Grammy Awards, and has been recognized for his contributions to both jazz and classical music. He was appointed as the Artistic Director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in 2011, and has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Today, Marsalis continues to perform and record with his quartet, as well as collaborate with other musicians in both jazz and classical genres. His passion for music and his commitment to excellence have made him one of the most respected and admired musicians of his generation.
Page last updated 3/26/2023.