|BRANFORD MARSALIS - BIOGRAPHY||
The oldest of the four musical Marsalis brothers, Branford Marsalis has already had an impressive career. After studying at Southern University and Berklee, Branford toured Europe with the Art Blakey big band in the summer of 1980 (playing baritone), played three months with Clark Terry and then spent five months playing alto with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1981). He mostly played tenor and soprano while with Wynton Marsalis's influential group (1982-85), at first sounding most influenced by Wayne Shorter but leaning more towards John Coltrane at the end. The musical telepathy between the two brothers (who helped to revive the sound of the mid-'60s Miles Davis Quintet) was sometimes astounding. Branford toured with Herbie Hancock's V.S.O.P. II. in 1983 and recorded with Miles Davis (1984's Decoy). In 1985 when he left Wynton to join Sting's pop/rock group, it caused a major (if temporary) rift with his brother that made headlines. Marsalis enjoyed playing with Sting but did not let the association cause him to forget his musical priorities. By 1986 he was leading his own group which eventually consisted of pianist Kenny Kirkland, bassist Bob Hurst and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts; sometimes the band was a pianoless trio that really allowed Marsalis to stretch out. After a couple of film appearances (in School Daze and Throw Mama from the Train), Branford Marsalis became even more of a celebrity when he joined Jay Leno's Tonight Show as the musical director in 1992. However being cast in the role of Leno's sidekick rubbed against Marsalis's temperament and after two years he had had enough. Branford Marsalis, who attempted to mix together hip-hop and jazz in his erratic Buckshot LeFonque project, has recorded steadily for Columbia ever since 1983 (including a classical set) and still seems to be searching for his niche.