New Orleans saxophonist master Branford Marsalis brings his jazz quartet to the Mondavi Center on Feb. 28

By Eddie Jorgensen

The Branford Marsalis Quartet is still a force on both in the studio and live front.

At present Marsalis is backed by pianist Joey Calderazzo, longtime bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner. As evidenced on recent songs, the quartet has become a well-oiled machine with a reverence for the jazz greats of yore. Anchored by the rhythm section of Revis and Faulker, it is equally at home playing covers as its own original jazz fare. With bandleader Marsalis leading, this is one dangerous group that knows how to play meticulously around the beat with grace and expertise.

“With us, it’s all about sound and the power it has to create emotion,” Marsalis has said of the quartet’s most recent studio work. “When you deal with sound, you don’t play the same thing twice in a row. You listen to each other, and every song is different.”

Pop culture fans who were introduced to Branford Marsalis by his association with Sting on the ‘Dream of The Blue Turtles’ should check out the jazz man’s body of work since the mid-80’s. Not only has Marsalis been prolific as a bandleader and musician, he’s been featured on myriad projects including Bela Fleck, Harry Connick Jr., Grateful Dead, James Taylor and Roy Hargrove.

Although Marsalis has been stylistically compared to saxophone giants such as Coltrane and Shorter, he’s forged his own identity. Now with a huge body of work and a ferocious quartet at his side, the upcoming Mondavi performance should prove rewarding to both newcomers and jazz aficionados alike. Whether you’re versed in jazz or not, the evening’s program may deliver a handful of aural surprises.

The Branford Marsalis Quartet plays Wednesday, February 28 at Jackson Hall inside U.C. Davis’ Mondavi Center. The venue is located at One Shields Avenue in Davis. Tickets start at just $25 with premier seating topping out at $69 and can be purchased in advance at Doors open at 6:30pm and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. All ages are welcome.

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