The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday February 8th

Branford Marsalis comes back to UNC

To perform tonight at Memorial Hall

	<p>Branford Marsalis, an internationally recognized saxaphonist, will play at Memorial Hall with the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra.  Courtesy of Carolina Performing Arts</p>
Buy Photos

Branford Marsalis, an internationally recognized saxaphonist, will play at Memorial Hall with the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra. Courtesy of Carolina Performing Arts

Branford Marsalis was raised on jazz.

An internationally renowned saxophonist, Marsalis — who is the oldest of four musical brothers and son of a jazz legend — is bringing his signature sound to Memorial Hall for the second time this season.


Time: 7:30 p.m. tonight
Location: Memorial Hall, $10 if for student, $30 or more for public.

Marsalis will join the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra, playing both the alto and tenor saxophone.

The jazz great rehearsed together with the ensemble for the first time Monday.

“He makes it sound as though he’s been practicing with us for years,” said Jim Ketch, the orchestra’s music director and a UNC music professor.

The orchestra will play selections from the likes of Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and many other notable jazz musicians.

Ketch said that Marsalis hardly ever plays on alto saxophone when he is not recording classical music. Marsalis’ alto saxophone solos would be a treat for the audience, he said.

“To me, they were almost the highlights of the rehearsal the other night,” Ketch said.

Ketch said that he thinks the collaboration will be a great experience. The orchestra offers Marsalis a big band sound, and his reputation could open doors to a new demographic for the orchestra itself.

“I’m excited about the fact that these are all North Carolinians, primarily, coming to hear us and maybe 80 percent of them will be hearing us for the first time,” Ketch said.

Marsalis, who lives in Durham, played on campus in January, when his younger brother Wynton Marsalis performed at Memorial Hall.

Branford and Wynton have an intense, but respectful rivalry, Branford Marsalis said. The brothers are a year apart.

“It’s really inspiring to have that motivation,” he said.

Branford Marsalis said that nowadays, there is an escapist mentality when it comes to music — and he makes it a case to avoid that.

“I’m not in the trends business,” he said. “I’m in the excellence business — and that is not a trend. I can’t afford to be fake or my music will be.”

His passion for excellence is paying off, Ketch said.

“My guess is that the vast majority of these people are really just coming because they see Branford’s name, and they may not know anything about me or our orchestra,” he said.

The jazz orchestra, however, is one of the most visible jazz bands in the state, said Stephen Anderson, a UNC music professor.

“The intention here was to bring them together; it was never about Branford the star,” said Emil Kang, executive director for the arts. “It’s great music by local people.”

Aside from his music and work as a professor at N.C. Central University, Branford Marsalis prides himself on continuing the kinds of family values that he grew up with.

“I’m practicing, trying to get better, raising my kids and going on the road,” he said.

Contact the Arts Editor at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.


The Daily Tar Heel's 2023 Rivalry Edition

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive