Branford Marsalis & Kurt Elling

Post-Fest Event
Wednesday, April 19 / 7:30 p.m.

Kutztown University Schaeffer Auditorium
KU Presents! Series
Brandofrd Marsalis with special guest Kurt Elling


Multiple Grammy winner Branford Marsalis has stayed the course. From his early acclaim as a saxophonist bringing new energy and new audiences to the jazz art, he has refined and expanded his talents and his horizons as a musician, composer, bandleader and educator — a 21st century mainstay of artistic excellence.

Grammy winner Kurt Elling is among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. Elling’s rich baritone spans four octaves and features both astonishing technical mastery and emotional depth. His repertoire includes original compositions and modern interpretations of standards, all of which are springboards for inspired improvisation, scatting, spoken word, and poetry.

So when they combined forces along with the Branford Marsalis Quartet with pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner on the 2016 album Upward Spiral, the outcome was extraordinary and then some.

Of course, when one of the best and important jazz bands unites with one of the best and most important jazz vocalists, how could it not be?

Elling blended seamlessly on the CD, becoming fully one with the group and making it truly a quintet album.

And now their partnership has migrated to live performances, including this presentation of the Kutztown University Presents Series and Berks Jazz Fest.

The goal from the outset was to create a true partnership.

“I usually reject the word “collaboration,'” Marsalis explains, “because it implies a third thing from that which each collaborator does well. I don’t need a collaborator to do what I normally do, and Kurt doesn’t either. But this time, none of us were going to do what we normally do. The goal here, even though he sings lyrics, was to highlight Kurt’s voice as an instrument. He has the most flexible voice around, is always in tune and is a true jazz musician.”

“My thing is always about tailoring what I do to the vision and personality of the band, and Branford’s quartet is a real working band, which is both an incredible luxury and incredibly important for the music,” Elling explains. “They provided everything on a silver platter.”

No wonder Marsalis and Elling soar in an Upward Spiral. Just as they will soar in this concert performance.