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Branford Marsalis Trades Stardom for Tradition
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Jazz musician Branford Marsalis has no regrets when it comes to his professional decisions. He left his famed post as bandleader-sidekick on The Tonight Show, quickly left his position as musical director of Sting's post-Police band, and turned down a contract with a major record label.
"I learned a lot about American pop culture and the entertainment business," Marsalis said in a recent interview with the Associated Press (AP), describing his Tonight Show experience from 1992 to '95. "What makes entertainment work for everybody is a certain embracing of the blatant superficiality of it, and that's just something that I wasn't able to do. ... It was the revelation I needed to realize that I'm not an entertainer, I'm an artist."
The 44-year-old musician currently lives his life by defining his own success. He started his own record label, Marsalis Music in 2002. Around the same time he moved his family from New York City to the suburbs of Durham, N.C., allowing him to purchase a home that was large enough to accommodate a basement recording studio. Originally from New Orleans himself, Marsalis told AP he preferred returning to his Southern roots to raise his family.
Although he has taken the road less travelled in his industry, Marsalis still performs live, these days it’s with his quartet at jazz clubs, festivals and college campuses. His current quartet, which includes pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts has enjoyed nearly six years together. The quartet has links with Marsalis dating back to the late '70s at Boston's Berklee College of Music.
The quartet is currently nominated for a Grammy in the best jazz instrumental album category for their all-ballads album, “Eternal”. The saxophonist has been previously awarded with three Grammys in both the jazz and pop categories.
Marsalis is the first one to admit hat his musical path was unclear until he took the gig as The Tonight Show bandleader's post and felt something was missing.
"My crisis of conscience has always been in, like, leaving jazz to go do other things, because I wasn't really sure about wanting to play jazz," Marsalis said. "Once I decided that jazz was what I wanted to do ... I realized that this is what I was meant to do and I just set about the task of doing it."
Branford Marsalis is a true artist, using his talent to produce beautiful music rather than make millions.
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Thursday, February 03, 2005
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