On Friday evening at 8 p.m., I found myself sitting amongst a packed audience at Emory’s very own Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, eagerly waiting “An Evening with Branford Marsalis” to begin, the kick-off show for the 2012-2013 Flora Glenn Candler Concert Series.

The evening marked the first of eight shows this year. The Candler Concert Series are incredible opportunities to see world-famous performers showcase their talents right on our campus.

Branford Marsalis, the lead saxophonist, is not only a well-known musician, but he is also a Tony Award-nominated composer and a three-time Grammy Award winner. The famous jazz quartet included Branford Marsalis on saxophone, Joey Calderazzo on the piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner on the drums.

The quartet tuned their instruments, and Marsalis stepped up to the microphone to welcome the crowd. He threw out a few well-received jokes, setting a light-hearted mood in the theater. Afterwards, the jazz quartet began their performance with a riveting piece called “The Mighty Sword,” written by Marsalis.

Any lingering sereneness departed from the audience, as the unpredictable and wild nature that is jazz filled the room.

Each instrument in the quartet – the sharp notes of the piano, the deep bass, the taps of the drums, the piercing melody of the saxophone – was absolutely essential to the performance.

The musicians played as if their lives depended on it as if they were possessed by the music itself.

During the show, each musician had his fair share of solos, Marsalis being the star performer. Each solo brought the audience to its feet in applause because of its originality and difficulty.

Marsalis paused after one song to speak to the audience.

“One of the hardest things you can do without words, with instruments, is to create emotions,” he said. However, that night the Branford Marsalis Quartet impressively communicated emotions with their remarkable skills.

The quartet proceeded to play the powerful song, “As summer into Autumn Slips,” written by Calderazzo.

Marsalis said Calderazzo wrote the song to describe Calderazzo’s emotions while his friend was dying of cancer. The poignancy and depth of the song was moving.

Watching the musicians’ exaggerated movements as they played their instruments, feet tapping, bodies moving and mouths humming, pulled all those watching into the music. Admiration was written on the faces of the audience members.

The next Candler Concert Series will take place on Thursday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. Gil Shaham will be performing on the violin.

– By Monica Yang