Branford Marsalis Calls Out Jay Z as 'Ill-Informed,' Discusses Classical Music and the Civil Rights Movement

By Ian Holubiak | Feb 19, 2015 09:54 PM EST
Branford Marsalis performs during the 2014 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Day 2 at Fair Grounds Race Course on April 26, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo : Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Branford Marsalis, brother to the esteemed Wynton, has toured the world with some of jazz's greatest minds: Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Dizzy Gillespie to name a few. In a recent interview at the San Antonio Current, Marsalis talks everything from classical to his gripe with Jay-Z.

The résumé continues, too, with Branford having been the leader of a formidable quartet as well as serving a two-year stint as the leader of The Tonight Show band. He's also had a handful of guest spots with the Grateful Dead and some of the nation's most recognized symphonic orchestras.

What we're trying to say is that Mr. Marsalis is quite the badass when it comes to jazz--also having been named one of jazz's most recognizable cross-cultural ambassadors.

In the interview, the saxophonist talks about classical music and how he had a propensity for classical music. What made it so attractive? Well, as he cites, it gave him a lot of artistic freedom.

"There's a lot of freedom in classical music," he says to the Current, "[And] if you brought five versions of the same piece, they would sound totally different depending on the region, the conductor, the orchestra, all these different things."

He continues, "Because there's a lot of wiggle room, even in composed music. It's just great to play in a system that has rules, because it helps you refine freedom."

As he continues to talk about his dedication to jazz, he also interjects a tidbit about Jay Z.

He says, "They were talking to [Jay-Z] about the movie Selma, and Martin Luther King and civil rights. And Jay-Z says hip-hop has done more for civil rights and race relations than any social movement."

He continues, "Because before hip-hop, white people would go to rock clubs, and black people would go to hip hop clubs. Then the white people started to go to hip-hop clubs, and now everything is cool. And everybody's killing him. That's ridiculous!"

Marsalis, the humble man he is, attributes it to being "ill-informed."

Make your way over to the Current for the interview and in the meantime get up with Branford below.

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