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Now Hear This: Branford Marsalis | Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Music From The Netflix Film)

The jazz chameleon mixes vintage and contemporary in this stylish soundtrack.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The soundtrack album for the Netflix original film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom features the movie’s original music written by Grammy-winning saxophonist and composer Branford Marsalis.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is directed by George C. Wolfe and stars Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Colman Domingo, Michael Potts, Glynn Turman, Dusan Brown and Taylour Paige. The movie based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play is set in 1927, as tensions rise when the trailblazing Mother of the Blues and her band gather at a Chicago recording studio.

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.”

Adds Wolfe: “When I signed on to direct, 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.”