By Matthew Harron
Assistant Arts & Entertainment editor
KU Presents will feature GRAMMY award-winner, Branford Marsalis, and his string quartet! on April 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Schaeffer Auditorium. Accompanying Marsalis will be Kurt Elling, GRAMMY award-winner and well-known jazz vocalist.
The Branford Marsalis Quartet has set the bar high for other ensembles; their high-sense of musicianship and telepathic communication places them among the great string quartets. With Marsalis’ artistic excellence and Elling’s renowned voice, this edition of KU Presents! will be one to mark in the books.
Marsalis has been an active member in the jazz community since the mid-1980s. While he was a student at the Berklee College of Music, he gained experience while touring in Europe playing alto and baritone saxophone. Marsalis even had the opportunity to perform with Jazz legend, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.
Stemming from similar opportunities, Marsalis played a part in forming his brother’s first quintet. Until 1985, Marsalis continued playing with his brother’s quintet until releasing his first recording, “Scenes in the City.”
Marsalis and Elling have been familiar with one another from their touring experiences, but it was not until the two sat down and fully committed to collaborating. Neither Marsalis or Elling typically collaborate with others, but the two could not pass up this opportunity.
“This time, none of us were going to do what we normally do,” said Marsalis. “The goal here, even though he sings lyrics, was to highlight Kurt’s voice as an instrument.”
Outside of Marsalis’ touring career, he became involved with higher education by teaching master classes at Michigan State, San Francisco State and North Carolina Central University.
Aside from educating, Marsalis was awarded the S. Roger Horchow Award for greatest public service by a citizen. Following the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina, Marsalis was steadfast in creating new opportunities for those harmed in the hurricane.
He founded Musicians Village in New Orleans which focuses on the development and education of homeowners who live nearby.
Tickets for Branford Marsalis are on sale at the MSU information desk. More information about the event can be found at the KU Presents! box office or online at Kutztownpresents.org.