by Kim Hastings
November 5, 2014
A river of New Orleans jazz music runs deeply through the Marsalis family. From father Ellis through Branford, Wynton, Ellis Jr. and to the cousins beyond, music is the lifeblood that flows through their veins. Little surprise then that Jason, the youngest of the Marsalis family, carries on the proud tradition. Jason Marsalis and the Jason Marsalis Quartet bring their love of all things jazz to Dimitrious’ Jazz Alley Wednesday Nov. 5. One show only, the music begins at 7:30 p.m.
Jason Marsalis has been drumming all his life. In the last 15 years, he added the vibraphone to his repertoire. It is this fusion of percussive sound that he features in his newest album, 21st Century Trad Band. In a live appearance on KPLU’s Studio Sessions, Marsalis was asked about musical influence.
“Well my family first, but I also was strongly impacted by the Afro-Cuban sounds of Abelardo Barroso, Bebo Valdez, and Armando Parazo,” said Marsalis.
When asked about his current album Marsalis said, “People hear ‘Trad Band” and they think that was something from a long time ago. I want to show the people that it’s something that can work today.”
Marsalis’ group includes Austin Johnson (piano) Will Goble (bass) Dave Potter (drums) and Marsalis, concentrating on vibraphone but also taking a turn on the skins himself.
Marsalis’ career was briefly derailed by Hurricane Katrina but has since taken on new life. His 2009 release “Music Update” was his first release as bandleader. The album was Jason’s celebratory response to his family winning the distinguished NEA Jazz Masters Award. Since that time, his career has only flourished. 2013 was a monumental year in which Marsalis released his next recording as a leader on vibes entitled “In a World of Mallets”. The album went to Number 1 on the CMJ Radio Charts and also won an Offbeat Magazine award, a New Orleans music magazine, for best Contemporary Jazz Album.
Marsalis’ fans can expect to hear a wide-ranging eclectic set at Jazz Alley. From the titular track to the off-beat “For the Man With Two Left Feet” the Marsalis Quartet keeps the music humming. Featured are Jazz riffs and signature long pieces that show off the abilities owned by everyone in the group. The show is designed as an homage to jazz, blues, and the myriad music that has shaped Marsalis’ life.