The GRAMMY Award-winning New Orleans-based saxophonist and bandleader BRANFORD MARSALIS is "a jazz chameleon…with a swooping tone, supple phrasing, and witty licks." (AllMusic) He cut his teeth with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and his brother Wynton's quintet, not to mention guest appearances with Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, before forming his own influential Branford Marsalis Quartet in 1986. His work cuts across genre and medium—his group Buckshot LeFonque merges jazz with rock and hip hop influences, and his work in classical music brings him into concert halls worldwide playing saxophone repertoire with symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles.
In the educational sphere, he has held positions at Michigan State, San Francisco State, and North Carolina Central University. Assertive, precise, and expressive of a timeless yet daring sensibility, the rigor and historical depth of Branford's music is one of a kind. His two sets tonight bookend ROGER GUENVEUR SMITH's startling one man show, FREDERICK DOUGLASS NOW, a special evening inspired by the bicentennial of the dynamic abolitionist and pioneering feminist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895). The multidisciplinary performance incorporates elements of slam poetry, rap, and revival minister to recast the words of the runaway slave-turned-abolitionist into a 21st century context and "makes a striking statement about where America has come and still has to go in terms of race." (LA Times)
Smith, the Obie Award-winning writer, actor and director, returns to BRIC after this season's The Hendrix Project, devised and directed by Smith for the Under the Radar Festival. Smith's solo performance of Rodney King was distinguished with the Bessie Award for its BRIC run, and is currently streaming on Netflix in an acclaimed adaptation directed by Spike Lee. Lee and Smith were honored at last year's Cannes Film Festival for their prolific body of collaborative work, which also includes Malcolm X, Get on the Bus, He Got Game, Summer of Sam, and Chi-raq. Smith's work for the international stage also includes Christopher Columbus 1992, Iceland, Juan and John, Who Killed Bob Marley?, Two Fires, Katori Hall's The Mountaintop, Steven Berkoff's Agamemnon, and, most recently, Casa de Spirits. With New Orleans native Mark Broyard, Smith created and performed Inside the Creole Mafia, a "not-too-dark comedy" scored by Marsalis. "Roger Guenveur Smith," writes The New York Times, "gets it all and gets it brilliantly." He teaches at Cal Arts, where he directs his Performing History Workshop.
Gates open at 6:30PM for this evening, which will include a set from Branford Marsalis at 7:30PM, followed by the one-hour performance of Frederick Douglass Now, and then a final set from Branford Marsalis to close out the night.
Friends of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival
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The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is one of New York City's longest running, free, outdoor performing arts festivals and is held every summer at the Prospect Park Bandshell. View seating arrangements here.
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