Ryan Chartrand

He is known to many as a godfather of modern jazz. Now the smooth, soul-filled sounds of three-time Grammy award winner Branford Marsalis and his saxophone can be heard tonight at 9 p.m. in the Cohen Center.

Marsalis will perform a unique collaboration with the Philarmonia Brasileira, under conductor Gil Jardim. Together the ensemble calls itself, “Marsalis Brasilianos.”

The musicians had toured Brazil before embarking on their ambitious 28-city tour.

San Luis Obispo is the sixth stop on the tour that started Oct. 2 in Eugene, Ore. and ends Nov. 15 at Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The program will include Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Fantasia for saxophone (soprano) and piano or orchestra and Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 and No. 9, as well as Darius Milhaud’s La Creation du Monde, Op. 81 and Scaramouche for Saxophone (alto) and orchestra Op. 165c.

“Everybody has a say in the course and direction of where the music goes, with the understanding that what matters is the music,” Marsalis said in a statement. “When everybody’s on that page – it’s magic.”

Marsalis has taken a turn towards more classical pursuit of his trade with his recent tour and has received critical acclaim for his new style.

“There are a lot of classical pieces for saxophone, but there are not a lot of those pieces that I would enjoy playing,” Marsalis said. “They become exercises. They show off the technical possibilities of the instrument, not the beautiful possibilities.”

The musicians that accompany Marsalis to Cal Poly will help him play jazz at its highest standard, he said.

“I prefer music by composers who did not hear the saxophone as a bastard instrument, but simply believed in things that are beautiful and I’ve found my collaboration with great classical ensembles to be like jazz, when jazz is good,” Marsalis said.

The Philarmonia Brasileira was established in 1994, and under Jardim’s artistic direction, word of its popularity spread through its native Brazil. The popularity spread as a result of the group playing at many Brazilian cultural events and its involvement in the glorification and preservation of the work of Villa-Lobos.

General public tickets for the performance range from $42 to $48, with student discounts available on all seats, and may be purchased at the Performing Arts Ticket Office.

A pre-concert lecture by Cal Poly Music Professor Ken Habib will be held at the Performing Arts Center Pavilion at 7 p.m.

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