NEW YORK (AP) _ Branford Marsalis is taking a break from leading the band on ''The Tonight Show.''

The 34-year-old saxophonist will take a leave of absence from the NBC show early next year, his spokeswoman, Annie O'Hayan, said today.

There's been no decision yet on a departure date or the length of the leave, she said.

Marsalis hopes to spend more time touring and with his 8-year-old son, O'Hayan said.

She said his departure does not reflect any unhappiness with the job or the show's host, Jay Leno.

''He and Jay get along very well, and I'm sure Jay went along with whatever's good for Branford at this time,'' O'Hayan said.

Marsalis won't be replaced, NBC spokeswoman Jennifer Barnett said today in Los Angeles. Bass player Kevin Eubanks, who has filled in for Marsalis in the past, will take up the baton for now.

Marsalis has conducted the NBC Orchestra since Leno replaced Johnny Carson as host of ''The Tonight Show'' in 1992.