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arts iu auditorium performances

An Evening with Branford Marsalis takes over IU Auditorium Jan. 25

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The Branford Marsalis Quartet filled the IU Auditorium with the blue sounds of New Orleans inspired jazz as rain poured over the city of Bloomington at 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening.  

The three-time Grammy award-winning saxophonist, Branford Marsalis, formed the musical group in 1986 and has been primarily performing with the three others ever since. The current quartet consists of bassist Eric Revis, drummer Justin Faulkner and pianist Joey Calderazzo. Fans of all ages attended the show.  

Anne Haines, content strategist for IU Libraries, decided on a whim a week in advance to buy a ticket for the concert. She sat solemnly near the auditorium’s entrance, waiting for the show to begin.  

“With the weather and COVID and everything, I just don’t like to plan too far ahead,” Haines said. “And then I saw there was a good seat left so I said, ‘why not?’”  

Haines said she grew up listening to jazz, and while she had never seen Marsalis perform live, she had watched him many times on television.  

“If you like jazz, you’ll like it (Marsalis),” Haines said.  

The Branford Marsalis Quartet walked onto the stage for their 7:30 p.m. start time. Marsalis grabbed the microphone and greeted the audience.  

“Back in Bloomington!” Marsalis said. “I love it here: great campus, great people.”  

Marsalis held a Q&A before the show Thursday and had plans for a composition clinic with students in the Jacobs School of Music the day following, according to IU Auditorium staff.  

Throughout the night’s musical performance, the quartet played a variety of jazz compositions, including Keith Jarrett’s “Long As You Know You’re Living Yours” and “Spiral Dance.” They also performed original compositions such as “The Mighty Sword” and a tribute to jazz legend Hoagy Carmicheal. Marsalis shared with the audience he had just learned that Carmichael was a Bloomington native during his most recent stay at the Graduate Hotel, as he saw a display of “Stardust,” one of Carmicheal’s compositions, in his room.  

The quartet participated in some witty banter between the musicians, sharing laughter with the audience. The musicians walked off stage around 9 p.m., before coming back for an encore and performing Paul Barbarin’s “Bourbon Street Parade” as their final number.  

Several musicians attended the show Thursday night, including many Jacobs School of Music students, as well as members of Bloomington North and South High Schools’ jazz ensembles. 

Kaiden Hardy, Bloomington South senior and a tenor saxophonist himself, watched the concert with friends from his high school band.    

“It was really cool hearing,” Hardy said. “Especially the soprano acts, I don’t think you hear that a lot, but the base as well. It was just overall amazing.”  

Peter Bailey, a lifelong jazz pianist, grew up in England and now lives in Bloomington. Bailey had seen the quartet perform a few times before and thought Thursday night’s show was brilliant. 

“I like the way they took stand-ins at the end and absolutely tore them to pieces,” he said. 

Bailey laughed as he was referencing the quartet’s interactions with the crowd before the encore when they asked for input to choose the final song. Members of the crowd yelled song requests to Marsalis on stage while he’d respond letting them know which ones they could and could not perform for the night.   

Bloomington was one stop in Marsalis’s Jazz Tour, which will conclude with his Long Beach, CA show in March.

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