From left: Legendary jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis will bring his namesake quartet to The Barn at Wolf Trap for two shows on Jan.26-27. Pictured with Marsalis are drummer Justin Faulkner, bassist Eric Revis and pianist Joey Calderazzo. (Courtesy photo)
From left: Legendary jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis will bring his namesake quartet to The Barn at Wolf Trap for two shows on Jan.26-27. Pictured with Marsalis are drummer Justin Faulkner, bassist Eric Revis and pianist Joey Calderazzo. (Courtesy photo)

The D.C. region will welcome iconic jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis in the coming days for two concerts in which he will perform in two different music styles.

Marsalis will play Thursday with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in a primarily classical repertoire at Strathmore in North Bethesda before returning on Jan. 26-27 with his Branford Marsalis Quartet (BMQ) jazz group for two shows at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va.

Coming from the renowned musical Marsalis family of New Orleans, home training has served him very well, enabling him to steer easily between classical, jazz and film-scoring gigs.

“It’s best to have a vision of what you’re trying to do and make sure people you’re working with understand what you’re trying to do,” Fred Irby, a music professor at Howard University and principal trumpet in the Kennedy Center Musical Theater Orchestra, said of Marsalis’ versatility.

Marsalis has performed since 2000 with the Grammy-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The Jan. 20 show at Strathmore will include several traditional classical compositions, including “Overture to The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini to a treatment composed by Courtney Bryan for the familiar “Carmen Jazz Suite on Themes” by Bizet. The “Carmen Suite” encompasses classical components from the original “Carmen” with openings for improvisation typical in jazz.

“It’s quite clear that Bryan loves jazz, but she experiments with love, sacred music and gospel visuals,” Gina Cuffari, one of three artistic directors for the 21-member orchestra, said of the “Carmen Suite.” “It’s clear she knows Branford can improvise anything. She wants musicians to improvise.”

Those looking for an evening of jazz will undoubtedly enjoy BMQ’s shows on Jan. 26-27 at The Barns at Wolf Trap, a venue at which Marsalis has performed numerous times over the past few decades. In addition to Marsalis on saxophone, other members of BMQ are Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner on drums. BMQ has been on the scene for more than three decades.

“Branford Marsalis is one of the greatest jazz instrumentalists, composers and bandleaders of our time,” said Sara Beesley, vice president of program and production at Wolf Trap. “we are thrilled to have his Quartet return to The Barns.”

In 2011, Marsalis, along with his father Ellis and his brothers, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason, were honored as a group with the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters. The three-time Grammy winner also has scored plays, films and documentaries. He won a Drama Desk Award for his musical compositions in August Wilson’s “Fences.”

Marsalis was nominated for an Emmy in 2021 for scoring the History Channel’s “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre.” George C. Wolfe called Marsalis to score the Netflix movie “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The two award-winning creators had worked together on the 2017 HBO film “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

“With all these different projects, people see what he can do,” Irby, who also directs the award-winning Howard University’s Jazz Ensemble, said of how Marsalis moves seamlessly between his musical commitments. “They know his talent and want to collaborate with him.”

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and BMQ national tours overlap during January and February. Then the jazz tour continues through May.

“Branford’s beauty of sound always strikes me as extremely warm and rich,” said Cuffari, a bassoonist with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. “Technically, he’s just perfect.” 

For ticket information on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Branford Marsalis at Strathmore on Jan. 20 at 8 p.m., go to www.strathmore.org. For information on the Branford Marsalis Quartet’s upcoming show at The Barns at Wolf Trap, go to www.wolftrap.org.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

The Washington Informer

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Brenda Siler

Twitter and Instagram: @bcscomm

Branford Marsalis

Website: https://www.branfordmarsalis.com  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/branfordmarsalis  

Twitter: @bmarsalis

Instagram: @branfordmarsalis

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/MarsalisMusic

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Website:  https://orpheusnyc.org

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/OrpheusNYC

Twitter:  @orpheusnyc

Instagram: @orpheuschamberorchestra

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/orpheusnyc

 Strathmore

Website: https://www.strathmore.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StrathmoreArts

Twitter: @strathmore

Instagram: @strathmorearts

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/strathmorearts

Wolf Trap

Website: https://www.facebook.com/WolfTrapOfficialPage

Facebook: https://www.wolftrap.org  

Twitter and Instagram: @Wolf_Trap

Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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