Mission: To seek and share inspiration

Q & A with Branford Marsalis


Fanfare Cincinnati: The work you’ll be performing, John Williams’ Escapades from Catch Me If You Can, is essentially a movie score turned sax concerto. What are some insights the audience should listen for? Have you performed this work before?

Branford Marsalis: The only recognizable parts from the movie are the initial melodies in the 1st and 3rd movements. Otherwise, there are few things the audience would be familiar with. I’ve played the piece many times, and look forward to playing it with the CSO.

FC: How has your background as a jazz musician influenced the way you approach music in an orchestral/symphonic setting?

BM: I think my being a New Orleans jazz musician has more influence than the modern jazz musician. New Orleans guys hear more music than they can describe technically, and it’s often the opposite everywhere else. When I’m playing symphonic music, I am reacting to what the orchestra is playing, as opposed to merely starting when it’s my turn to start, and stopping when I’m required to stop. I’ve been told that my downbeat is slightly different than the standard classical musician. I think the space between my notes is slightly wider, which creates a different effect than many would be accustomed to.

FC: What other projects are on the horizon for you?

BM: I tend to focus on the present more than the future. I see myself as perpetually preparing for the next thing, as opposed to trying to create the next thing.

FC: The CSO’s mission statement is “To Seek and Share Inspiration.” Where do you seek, find and share inspiration, musically or otherwise?

BM: I do not try to seek or find inspiration. It finds me. My job is to prepare for the possibility of being surprised; that way I don’t feel the need to double down on what I already know. It is important for us to share how we feel about the music with the audience. I hope that I can accomplish that when I’m playing with the CSO. 


Photo: Roger Thomas