American saxophonist Branford Marsalis has long been regarded as one of the world’s greatest living musicians. Marsalis will make his much-anticipated debut with the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) this May, when he will perform a Latin American inspired program with the orchestra featuring the music of Villa-Lobos, Piazzolla, and Ginastera, directed by ACO Principal Violin Satu Vänskä.
Born in New Orleans and hailing from a rich jazz heritage, Marsalis is renowned for his musicianship which sees him move effortlessly between the jazz, Latin and classical genres. This exceptional versatility, paired with a thrilling virtuosity, makes him the ideal collaborator with the ACO, an ensemble that is renowned around the world for its intrepid and adventurous approach to programming and performance.
Marsalis hails from what has been termed the ‘First Family of Jazz’; his father is pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, and his three brothers, trumpeter Wynton, trombonist Delfeayo and drummer Jason, are also internationally renowned jazz musicians. While still a student at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, Marsalis was recruited into Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers, alongside his brother Wynton Marsalis, and went on to tour internationally with the band before the two brothers formed the Wynton Marsalis Quartet, which quickly earnt international acclaim for its virtuosic and uncompromising acoustic jazz style.
Famously diverse in his musical approach, Marsalis went on to collaborate with the likes of Sting, The Grateful Dead, Harry Connick Jnr, and the New York Philharmonic, starred as Music Director on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’, and hosted National Public Radio’s widely syndicated Jazz Set. He is the recipient of three Grammy Awards and has nearly thirty albums to his name.
Marsalis’ performances alternate with Vänskä taking centre stage with her 1726 ‘Belgiorno’ Stradivarius violin to perform Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, a heady mixture of tango rhythms and ingenious references to Vivaldi’s famous concertos. Marsalis will perform Brazilian composer Heitor Villa- Lobos’s Fantasia for Saxophone and Orchestra, alongside contemporary UK composer Sally Beamish’s serene Under the Wing of the Rock, in an arrangement dedicated to him by Beamish, in a bluesy translation for saxophone.
The programme: STRAVINSKY No.3 from Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet /VILLA-LOBOS Fantasia for Saxophone and Orchestra /PIAZZOLLA The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires /VILLA-LOBOS Ária (Cantilena) from Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 /SALLY BEAMISH Under the Wing of the Rock: Saxophone Concerto No.2 /GINASTERA Concerto for Strings
ARTISTS Branford Marsalis Saxophone /Satu Vänskä Director & Violin /Australian Chamber Orchestra