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Delfeayo Marsalis

September 2006 - Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis has his first recording out in a decade. Released on September 12, Minions Dominion is on Troubadour Jass Records and features the last recorded works of drummer Elvin Jones. In the time that they spent together, Marsalis received the wisdom and digested the history that Jones quietly imparted. It comes through in his music and in the work he does with young people; a family trait, it seems. In the liner notes to Minions Dominion, Marsalis says "Even though he didn’t dictate how musicians should play, he always answered questions about music seriously and honestly. There was never any hyperbole." And for students of the music, the less mess there is to cut through the easier it is to grab onto concepts and absorb the message. Since his 1996 release Musachi, Marsalis has produced other’s works, played in Jones’ ensembles and in 2004, earned his Masters from the University of Louisville in Kentucky where he studied primarily orchestration and arranging.

Minions Dominion envelops what is considered the core of jazz swing. All seven compositions (five written by Marsalis) cover post-bop and modern improvisational music. Comparisons will be made to Elvin’s work with saxophonist John Coltrane when one listens to "Lone Warrior", written in honor of the late drummer (he passed in 2004, two years after Minions Dominion was recorded.) It’s an extended work that evokes the transcendental mood that encircled Trane in his later works. This is sensed in "Lost In The Crescent", but this piece inserts a fictitious story set during the Reconstruction period of this country (brother tenor saxophonist Branford and Marsalis have a conflicted "conversation" at the beginning.) The slower numbers ("If You Only Knew" and "Just Squeeze Me") bring out the warm fluidity of the trombone by Marsalis. Included on this release are Branford and alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, pianist Mulgrew Miller (all three of whom have new releases out) and bassists Robert Hurst III, Edwin Livingston and Eric Revis. Author and critic A.B. Spellman, who wrote the liner notes, relates that these gentlemen "sound as if they had been playing together for years. In spirit, they have."

Marsalis returns to Boston, MA for The BeanTown Jazz Festival, September 29 Sunday, Oct. 1. Local and national artists will participate, including vocalists Carmen Lundy and Ellen O’Brien, keyboardist Omar Sosa, Kendrick Oliver’s New Life Orchestra with special guest vocalist Kevin Mahogany and The McCoy Tyner Septet that will be the Friday night Festival opener at the Berklee Performance Center. This year the Festival is being produced by Berklee College of Music. On that Saturday, Marsalis will be part of The Marsalis Music Stage, hosted by the Cambridge-based record label Marsalis Music, created by brother Branford. He’ll lead a group of Berkle students. An alumnus of the school, the trombonist teaches as well as performs jazz on many levels. One of his projects is the Uptown Music Theater, founded by him in 2002 in New Orleans that presents musical theater training to youth in 8th-12th grade. Thirty to forty students learn dancing, acting and singing. His latest program is "Swingin’ With The Cool School", an introduction to jazz for toddlers, or as Marsalis calls them, "hip tots." He engages students with humor and by deftly switching teaching styles between the differing ages and intellects. "For the younger students, the main thing is to introduce them to the music and hopefully they’ll get a sense of love for [it] and the type of love the music can give in return. With college age students, they have more information and more knowledge, which is a good and bad thing they have their own ideas of what [the music] should be. I’m not trying to change their ideas as much as provide them with information that maybe they hadn’t thought of to include in their concepts. At the center of all of this is a love for the music, and that’s where I base everything. And then it kinda takes care of itself."

Dr. Lawrence Simpson, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, is the Executive Producer of The BeanTown Jazz Festival. As the former President of Cuyahoga Community College's Metropolitan Campus, he supervised production of the well respected Tri-C Jazz Festival-Cleveland in Cleveland, OH. Simpson says that Berklee students will "be all over the place" on Saturday as volunteers as stage and production assistants and with vendors at tents and booths. Asked about having the Marsalises involved with Berklee lately (Branford recently was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Berklee), Simpson exclaims "Love it! The feeling is good." What he loves are their active roles and achievements in the education and music business "informing and educating young people about jazz music." Last fall father Ellis Marsalis conducted clinics and workshops at Berklee and gave a performance there. "We’re kind of making our way through the Marsalis Family," chuckles Simpson.

One writer in a concert review referred to Delfeayo as "Marsalis Brother No. 3". He’s third only by birth. The four Marsalis brothers and Patriarch Ellis are on level ground where heritage, family and music join. No number for this brother.

No Number for This Brother copyright@2006 Cheyl K. Symister-Masterson This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Delfeayo Marsalis
  • Subtitle: No Number for This Brother
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