Brian Marsella - p
© Sigitas Kondratas
This pianist, composer and bandleader has already been a guest at Vilnius Jazz Festival in 2018, when he and his acoustic trio interpreted the klezmer-inspired works from the Masada cycle by John Zorn, the legendary American avant-garde composer. It earned Marsella a reputation as an unparalleled performer of this music.
The pianist has been submerged in Zorn’s musical universe for seven years, taking part in his Masada and Bagatelle projects. In addition, he has been working with Cobra, New Electric Masada, the Chaos Magick Quartet (with John Medeski, Matt Hollenberg and Kenny Grohowski), the piano trio with Ches Smith and Jorge Roeder, and the Incerto Quartet (with Ches Smith, J. Roeder and Julian Lage). He has also appeared on 25 albums on Zorn’s avant-garde and experimental music label Tzadik, including ten as a leader.
This time, however, the pianist will showcase his talent and flexibility in a solo programme, breaking out of the shadow of his mentor.
Brian Marsella was born in Philadelphia and currently lives in New Jersey. He began his musical career at a very early age. With the guidance of his music-amateur father, he gave his first public performance at the age of five and took part in his first professional session at the age of eleven.
As a teenager, Brian performed extensively in Philadelphia with local ensembles. After meeting bassist Lance Walker, he discovered R&B, funk and fusion, and went on to play in The Dukes of Destiny, The Elgins and many more.
He played in clubs at night and weddings on the weekends, while pursuing a classical education – private lessons were followed by piano studies at the Juilliard School and the Peabody Conservatory, composition studies at Westminster Choir College. In 2000, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jazz and Contemporary Music from the City University of New York.
Since moving to New York, Brian has been touring and recording extensively with acclaimed artists around the world. He is a member of Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista’s Beat the Donkey. With Cyro Baptista he co-founded Vira Loucos and Banquet of the Spirits, and assists him with master classes and community projects.
Brian’s own projects include the large ensembles iMAGiNARiUM and Gatos do Sul, the jazz quintet The Flail, the surf-rock trio The Modulators, Archipelago X (with Ikue Mori and Sae Hashimoto), and two acoustic trios with Kenny Wollesen, Trevor Dunn and Christian McBride and Anwar Marshall. The latter trio’s album OUTSPOKEN was named the best of the year by The New York City Jazz Record in 2018. In 2020, Gatos do Sul album received the highest accolade – was voted the best album by Downbeat.
As a leader and co-leader, Marsella has released 19 albums and recorded over 50 albums in total.
The keyboardist has collaborated with Billy Martin, G. Calvin Weston, Marshall Allen, Odean Pope, David Fiuczynski, Anat Cohen, Mary Halvorson, Briggan Kraus, John Madoff, Nels Cline, Hassan Hakmoun, John Irabagon and many other talents.
He has performed with Meg Okura’s Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble, Chris Lightcap’s SuperBigmouth and Superette, Jessica Lurie Ensemble, Zion80, Pharaoh’s Daughter, Yemen Blues, Fresh Cut Orchestra and other groups on many of the world’s most important stages, including the Village Vanguard, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Kimmel Center, Hamburg’s Elbe Philharmonic and Paris’ Salle Pleyel, the Newport, Montreal, Melbourne, North Sea Jazz and Big Ears jazz festivals.
Marsella is also an enthusiastic educator. He teaches jazz piano at The New School of the City University of New York and the Interlochen Arts Academy, as well as gives masterclasses in cross-genre improvisation.
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