Afternoon of jazz at WCU on Oct. 2 will feature Branford Marsalis Quartet, special guest Kurt Elling

Branford Marsalis (left) and Kurt Elling

Branford Marsalis (left) and Kurt Elling

Tickets sales for the general public begin Tuesday, Sept. 6, for an afternoon of jazz starring the Branford Marsalis Quartet with special guest Kurt Elling at Western Carolina University.

The show is set for 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Branford Marsalis gained critical acclaim as a saxophonist early in his career, and since then has expanded his talents as a musician, composer, bandleader and educator. He has received numerous prestigious honors, including three Grammys and, together with his father and brothers, a citation as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.

A native of New Orleans, Marsalis began performing with local bands as a teenager and formed his own quartet in 1986. Music critics have hailed The Branford Marsalis Quartet as the standard to which other jazz ensembles are measured. The group’s most recent recording was named “Best Instrumental Jazz Album” in iTunes.

Marsalis’ first solo concert, recorded at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, is documented on his latest recording, “In My Solitude.” When it comes to other public stages, Marsalis spent a period touring with Sting, collaborated with the Grateful Dead and Bruce Hornsby, served as musical director for “The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno” and has hosted National Public Radio’s syndicated “Jazz Set.”

Grammy winner Kurt Elling will join the quartet on stage. Elling is considered by critics to be among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists and won the DownBeat Critics Poll for 14 consecutive years. He was named “Male Singer of the Year” by the Jazz Journalist Association eight times in that same span.

The Oct. 2 performance by the quartet and Elling will be the fall membership concert of WCU’s Friends of the Arts, and any new or renewing members of the FOA who sign up before Sept. 6 will have an opportunity to purchase the best seats in the house.

WCU’s Friends of the Arts provide scholarships and programming support for the College of Fine and Performing Arts. Since its founding six years ago, the organization has raised approximately $1 million and has established the Friends of the Arts Endowment, valued at about $200,000. Membership has blossomed from 81 to 465 members.

“Western North Carolina is a region rich in the arts, and the College of Fine and Performing Arts is proud to take a lead role in nurturing the lives and talents of the young artists who join us here,” said George H. Brown, dean of the college. “Membership in the Friends of the Arts makes a tremendous difference in the lives of these talented students.”

More information about joining the Friends of the Arts or renewing membership is available by calling 828-227-7028 or visiting

Concert ticket prices are $35 orchestra, $30 club, and $25 balcony. Beginning Sept. 6, tickets for the general public are available by visiting or calling 828-227-2479.

The concert is sponsored by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort, Pepsi and The Ascent Partnership. The partnership is a collaboration involving WCU, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital that is working to ensure access to quality health care for residents of North Carolina’s westernmost counties.