Born in Gainesville and raised in Miami, saxophonist Marcus Strickland and his twin brother, drummer E.J., were raised in a musical household thanks to a father devoted to a wide range of artists and styles. Strickland got his start as a sideman in various bands, including those led by Jeff “Tain” Watts, Roy Haynes and Dave Douglas. He went on to form his own groups, including the Twi-Life band and he even created his own record label Strick-Muzik which released several records by Strickland and his brother. He recently signed to Blue Note for whom he recorded Novi Nehi, produced by Meshell Ndegeocello. In addition to leading his own group, he’s also a member of the Blue Note All Stars band, which also features Robert Glasper, Ambrose Akinmusire, Lionel Loueke, Derrick Hodge and Kendrick Scott. That group will be performing on the Blue Note at Sea Cruise on January 27-February 3, 2018. He spoke with Lee Mergner about his mentors, the Blue Note All Stars and the importance of melody.