Jazz great Branford Marsalis takes the stage at Raleigh’s Meymandi Concert Hall, June 8, and he’s got company. Acclaimed musicians from across the jazz, blues, folk, gospel and classical music worlds join forces for a powerhouse concert lineup. With every performance and production service donated, all proceeds to “Branford Marsalis and Friends: A Benefit Night for the North Carolina Symphony” go directly to support the Symphony’s statewide service and education programs.
Music Director Grant Llewellyn hosts the concert event at Meymandi Concert Hall in downtown Raleigh’s Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Tuesday, June 8, at 7:30 p.m. The Symphony hopes to raise more than $100,000 through the evening.
Marsalis and his longtime collaborator, pianist Joey Calderazzo, open the performance with a selection of jazz duets, before the Grammy Award-winning saxophonist ventures into the classical realm. Llewellyn makes his Meymandi Concert Hall debut as a pianist, as the duo perform Karel Husa’s Élégie et Rondeau. Marsalis then joins a quartet of North Carolina Symphony musicians for a movement from Mozart’s Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A Major, with Marsalis playing the clarinet part on soprano saxophone. The quartet will also perform a movement from Dvořák’s “American” String Quartet.
The fun’s only begun, as roster of traditional music all-stars offers up fresh takes on old favorites “Foggy Mountain Top,” “Red Rocking Chair,” “My Rough and Rowdy Ways” and more. Throughout the evening, Marsalis teams up with old-time string band Big Medicine, guitarist Scott Ainslie and legendary bluesman Phil Wiggins, while gospel vocalist Tina Morris-Anderson lends her show-stopping vocal talents to charts ranging from “I Got Rhythm” to “Late Date with the Blues.” The evening comes to a one-of-a-kind close, as many of the artists come together for Lead Belly’s blues classic “Rock Island Line.”
“‘Rock’ is actually an appropriate word,” says North Carolina Symphony Vice President for Artistic Operations and General Manager Scott Freck of the concert. “I think the building is absolutely going to rock. People will talk about this night for a long time to come.”
A New Orleans native born into a distinguished musical family, Marsalis has blazed new trails as a jazz, funk, blues and classical music instrumentalist and composer; his original score to the Broadway revival of Fences is currently nominated for a Tony Award. He has also dedicated his career to promoting music in the classroom, including a unique residency with his quartet at North Carolina Central University in Durham. Marsalis is a board member of the North Carolina Symphony Society, Inc.
Tickets at ncsymphony.org and by phone at 919.733.2750. They can also be purchased at ticketmaster.com, 800.745.3000.