Branford Marsalis, Kurt Elling to record and perform in New Orleans

The next four nights represent something of a coup for Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro. Always considered the prime venue for jazz in the city, the Frenchmen Street club will play host for the next four nights to two of the most prominent names in jazz. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis will play Thursday through Sunday (12/10-13) with his world-class quartet along with premiere vocalist Kurt Elling in preparation for recording a new album next week.

The name Marsalis is synonymous with jazz in New Orleans. Yet, pianist Ellis Marsalis’s two eldest sons, Branford and trumpeter Wynton, rarely headline gigs in their hometown. A variety of factors explain this including scheduling, but suffice it to say that this engagement is a historic homecoming.

What makes it even more special is Marsalis is bringing his band, which features pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Justin Faulkner. Calderazzo and Revis are highly in demand in their own careers. Their rapport with Marsalis has been honed over many years of playing together. Faulkner is a relative newcomer who has been delighting audiences with his captivating presence and powerful soloing.

Chicago native Kurt Elling is a force as a vocalist. In a world where the best musicians often relegate singers to second-class status, Elling is a musician’s musician using his pipes as an instrument equal to any of the instrumentalists. His appearance in New Orleans is even more rare than Marsalis’s homecoming.

What makes Elling different from most vocalists is his ability to interact with a band on a purely musical level. He scats in a style reminiscent of the greats from earlier eras in jazz, practices the fine art of vocalese, which is mostly a lost skill in the modern era, and improvises like a chromatic harmonica player.

These performances are rehearsals of sorts for a recording that will take place next week. It is not open to the public, but the shows at Snug are, so don’t miss this exciting opportunity.

Show times are at 8 and 10 PM.

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