Updated: Aug 31
Fame has become such a permeable monolith in our media-driven age, so vulnerable to the affronts of mere celebrity, that authenticity seems harder and harder to determine.
Still, audiences tend to recognize the real thing when they see it. And for that reason, Branford Marsalis who, with his quartet will give two concerts Sunday at the Samueli Theater in Costa Mesa, has crossed musical barriers throughout his long career, and draws that subtle but well-earned nod of recognition given to the truly accomplished.
As a jazz musician, he has a world-class reputation as a player who can hold his own with anyone, including the royal likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey, Terence Blanchard and Sonny Rollins.
On the phone from his home in Durham, North Carolina this week (with frequent breakups), the 62 year-old Marsalis shared the somber mood occasioned by the recent death of another legend, Wayne Shorter. But he also alluded, as he frequently does, to the way things are done differently in New Orleans, his hometown.
“He was one of my major influences,” Marsalis said. “I’m as sad as other people are, because I can remember when he was able to play. By the end, he was on dialysis every day. He was 89 years old. If he could go like Doc Cheatham, who basically had a gig every Monday night until his death, yeah that would not be as sad. With Sonny Rollins it was great. He just said, ‘I’ve had enough.’ To be put in a situation where you can’t do the thing you love, that had to be really tough. In New Orleans, we throw parties for people when they die. We have a different outlook on it.
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