New Orleans-born saxophonist Branford Marsalis has been a household name since the early 1980s. Alongside his younger brother Wynton, he set the jazz world ablaze, earning his stripes on the bandstand with Art Blakey. From there, he found work in pop music (the Grateful Dead, Sting) and acting (Throw Mama From the Train, School Daze).
Eric Ryan Anderson Branford Marsalis Quartet - Marsalis (seated)
His unpredictable career found its highest profile when, just over 20 years ago, he became the bandleader for Jay Leno's incarnation of The Tonight Show. He spent his weekdays on late night television, smiling politely at Jay's Bill Clinton jokes and most of his weekends jetting to New York to see his young son. Marsalis did not last on the bandstand too long. He left two and a half years later to focus on his saxophone, releasing a handful of terrific records in the process including his most recent release Four MFs Playin' Tunes. We spoke to Marsalis by phone about his brief tenure as an Angeleno, ahead of his show at Cal State Northridge on Saturday.More »