The last time Branford Marsalis was in town, he stopped in to jam with some friends.
The time before that, the jazz master helped open the Holland Performing Arts Center.
On Friday, Marsalis and his quartet will come back to the venue to play music from his new album, “Four MF's Playin' Tunes,” as well as old favorites.
“We go all over the place. It depends on the audience, what they can listen to,” he told The World-Herald. “We try to play a variety of songs. We have a lot of older listeners, so we'll play some of the Gershwin tunes. We try to play a little something for everybody.”
Lately, Marsalis has been listening to a lot of classical music. He checks in with old jazz, too, but modern jazz doesn't have much appeal for him. It's becoming too stale.
“What's going on in jazz is memorizing the answers and giving you the answers regardless of the question. That's not improv, that's regurgitation,” he said. “It's overrehearsed and there's not an ounce of spontaneity at all.”
Though he's been prolific and considered a modern master, Marsalis has been trying to learn new music. He said he's inspired by friends such as David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Bruce Springsteen. They're constantly learning new songs and new styles and they play all kinds of stuff.
Marsalis was especially inspired by Sting, who he played with for years, when the former singer of The Police put out an album where he played the lute. It wasn't too popular.
“That's my guy. With the desire to do it right instead of that thing of pop singers making really bad standards records and everyone buys it,” he said. “That's an affirmation of what it means to love music. It inspired me to keep learning and get better. I had to take lessons to get to it, but you have to be willing to accept that you're not as good as you think you are.”
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