Milan Records today announces the December 18 release of MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX FILM), an album of music from Netflix’s newest original film about “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey. Available for pre-order now, the album features score music by critically-acclaimed saxophonist, instrumentalist, composer, bandleader and educator BRANFORD MARSALIS, as well as newly-recorded covers of both popular Ma Rainey tracks and blues and jazz standards from the era. The multi-GRAMMY Award winner brings over four decades of experience across stylistic boundaries to the project, imbuing the film with an authentic 1920s Chicago soundscape.
Of the soundtrack, composer BRANFORD MARSALIS says, “When George Wolfe called to ask me to compose music for his upcoming film, the project forced me to quickly fill in a gap in my musical experience: addressing the music of the 1920’s. I was excited about learning a new sound for my aural library and had to get right to work... Having only written arrangements for the modern big band (17 instruments, no strings), I looked forward to the challenge of writing in a ‘20s format and convincing the musicians to play the music as authentically as possible.”
Director GEORGE C. WOLFE adds, “When I signed on to direct Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, I instantly knew I wanted to work with Branford Marsalis, because when you collaborate with Branford the composer/arranger, Branford the historian, musicologist, dramatist and raconteur shows up as well. And because he understands the inherently transgressive nature of the blues, Branford’s arrangements capture not only the cultural and regional DNA in Ma Rainey’s songs, but the wit and rage embedded in every note, shout and moan.”
About the film: Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), her ambitious horn player (Chadwick Boseman), and the white management determined to control the legendary “Mother of the Blues.” Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's play. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, directed by George C. Wolfe. Starring Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Colman Domingo, Michael Potts, Glynn Turman, Dusan Brown and Taylour Paige. Coming to Netflix December 18.
After four decades in the international spotlight, the achievements of saxophonist Branford Marsalis continue to grow. From his initial recognition as a young jazz lion, he has expanded his vision as an instrumentalist, composer, bandleader and educator, crossing stylistic boundaries while maintaining an unwavering creative integrity. In the process, he has become a multi award-winning artist with three Grammys, a citation by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Jazz Master and an avatar of contemporary artistic excellence.
Growing up in the rich environment of New Orleans as the oldest son of pianist and educator, the late Ellis Marsalis, Branford was drawn to music along with siblings Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason. The Branford Marsalis Quartet, formed in 1986, remains his primary means of expression. In its virtually uninterrupted three-plus decades of existence, the Quartet has established a rare breadth of stylistic range as demonstrated on the band’s latest release:
The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul. But Branford has not confined his music to the jazz quartet context. A frequent soloist with classical ensembles, Branford has become increasingly sought after as a featured soloist with acclaimed orchestras around the world, performing works by composers such as Copeland, Debussy, Glazunov, Ibert, Mahler, Milhaud, Rorem, Vaughan Williams and Villa-Lobos. And his legendary guest performances with the Grateful Dead and collaborations with Sting have made him a fan favorite in the pop arena.
His work on Broadway has garnered a Drama Desk Award and Tony nominations for the acclaimed revivals of Children of a Lesser God, Fences, and A Raisin in the Sun. His screen credits include original music composed for: Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks starring Oprah Winfrey and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Ma Rainey is the Netflix film adaptation of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play, produced by Denzel Washington and scheduled for release in December 2020.
Branford has also shared his knowledge as an educator, forming extended teaching relationships at Michigan State, San Francisco State and North Carolina Central Universities and conducting workshops at sites throughout the United States and the world.
After the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, Branford, along with friend Harry Connick, Jr., conceived of “Musicians’ Village,” a residential community in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans. The centerpiece of the Village is the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, honoring Branford’s father. The Center uses music as the focal point of a holistic strategy to build a healthy community and to deliver a broad range of services to undeserved children, youth and musicians from neighborhoods battling poverty and social injustice.
Jeremy [Six Strings]