Photos: Branford Marsalis at Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center

Branford Marsalis performs at Cabaret Jazz at Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, March 31, 2012.
Photo: Erik Kabik/

Three-time Grammy Award winner Branford Marsalis performed an incredible concert Saturday night at Cabaret Jazz in the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown’s Symphony Park. Four master musicians each starred as solo experts, yet united in a fusion of joyful sound. The drummer, the pianist and the bass player were as remarkable as the saxophone star.

It was a memorable Las Vegas night -- intimate, warm and friendly. You felt as if you were onstage with them throughout the entire 75 minutes. There were two standing ovations and thunderous applause from jazz fans. The sound was superb. With its subdued lighting, Cabaret Jazz is reminiscent of a New York supper club set in an Art Deco building.

Branford performed two sold-out shows in the new Cabaret Jazz club, and Smith Center President Myron Martin told me that he was overwhelmed by the ticket demand: “We could have put him in the big theater, but people were happier to pay the higher ticket price just to get the close-up intimacy in the 275 seats.”

Branford Marsalis at Cabaret Jazz

I paid the premium for a front-row table, and it was worth every penny -- a very rare treat for Las Vegas. I recommend that you eat nearby in downtown at the fun, funky and delicious Bar + Bistro and see how the area has come alive and is booming on a Saturday night. The Smith Center is just a 2-minute drive away and already a great success drawing sold-out crowds and incredible ticket sales.

Myron added: “To say we are pleased with the sales is an understatement. We never expected this much interest so soon. We now even have scalpers outside, and that’s when you know you’ve got a hit on your hands.”

Photographer Erik Kabik, who shot this photo gallery, said: “In just a few notes, [Branford] can intertwine you in a story of love and loss or send your spirits soaring with a high-tempo flourish. [He] is truly one of the world’s most talented saxophonists playing everything from funk to classical to jazz. He can do almost anything … except disappoint.”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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