Five Fast Facts: Branford Marsalis, Saxophone and Jean-Willy Kunz, organ

Sep 17, 2019

Branford Marsalis and Jean-Willy Kunz will perform in concert as the first performance in Northrop's Music Series on Tue, Oct 1. Here are Five Fast Facts to know about the performance and the artists in advance.

  1. One of jazz’s most “prominent saxophonists,” Branford Marsalis is the eldest son of legendary jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis. The Marsalis family holds the first group citation of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters award. Marsalis has made numerous stops through the Twin Cities over the years, most recently in 2014 for the Twin Cities Jazz Festival in St. Paul.
  2. Born in New Orleans, Marsalis is often recognized as a “musician with social vision.” Alongside Harry Connick Jr. and the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity, Marsalis founded the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
  3. Though born in France, Jean-Willy Kunz is a long-time resident of Québec due to its “impressive level of education” and “excellent instruments.” He studied organ and harpsichord at Montreal’s Music Conservatory and received his doctorate in organ performance from McGill University.
  4. Jean-Willy Kunz is the first ever Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) organist in residence where, along with performing, he sees to the development and showcasing of the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique pipe organ. Kunz was appointed artistic director of the Canadian International Organ Competition in 2018.
  5. For this performance, the improbable duo blends seamlessly with “extraordinary virtuosity and rapport” that features an “excellent choice of classical pieces that could be readily appreciated by jazz fans” (All About Jazz).
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