“Those who value serious musicianship, sensitive phrasemaking and thoroughly idiomatic performances of a broad span of repertoire will find this work deeply satisfying.” -Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
From a tender young age it was clear that Jason Marsalis had what it took to be great. Jason is the son of pianist and music educator Ellis Marsalis and his wife Dolores, and the youngest sibling of Wynton, Branford and Delfeayo. Together, the four brothers and Ellis comprise New Orleans’s venerable first family of jazz, and recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts 2011 Jazz Masters awards. Jason is well known for his prodigal drumming. Working with his father’s group, as well as the great pianist Marcus Roberts, he has fine-tuned his playing in two of the most demanding trio settings in modern jazz. However, with the release of 2013’s “In A World of Mallets”, and his recognition as the 2013 rising star winner in the Downbeat Magazine annual critics poll, listeners are now recognizing Jason for his unique sound on the vibraphones.
Since 2000, Jason has been a mainstay on the New Orleans scene as a bandleader from the vibraphone chair. More recently, Jason formed the current incarnation of his Vibes Quartet in the summer of 2007, and has spent the last several years touring and developing repertoire and rapport with his young quartet. The quartet’s sophomore release “In A World Of Mallets” was released in February, 2013, on Basin Street Records, and features Jason’s original music, songs from his band mates, and more. Marsalis also plays marimba, glockenspiel, tubular bells, vibraphone and xylophone on the album as he expands on his “discipline” overdubs of recent years.
Jason’s own playing is unique; drawing from a wide range of influences, he performs original music as well as many hidden gems in the jazz literature and beyond. Jason’s knack for selecting compositions that cover a wide range of moods, rhythms, and emotions, engages the audience, and offers surprises around every turn. As a drummer, Marsalis continues to perform frequently with his brothers and father, as well as Marcus Roberts, John Ellis and Double Wide, the Scan-Am Quartet, and others. As a vibraphonist, he commonly joins Shannon Powell and other New Orleans musicians on the bandstand, as well as touring as the featured soloist with the Lionel Hampton Tribute Orchestra. These varied contemporary collaborations shape Jason’s conception for his Vibes Quartet, as do his respect and admiration for past vibraphone mainstays such as Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, and Bobby Hutcherson.
Jason’s newest project slated for release, “In A World Of Mallets,” features original music contributed by the members of the Quartet, with Johnson, Potter, and Goble each offering one original. These are bookended by more of Jason’s delightfully unique and thoughtful compositions, along with a lively version of Brian Coogan’s “Nice Mailman’s Song For Ann,” and some surprise highlights of Jason’s other talents.
2011 and 2012 were exciting years for both Jason’s family and his own development as a writer, performer and
educator. Jason continues to invest in education and outreach as he conducts clinics, workshops, and remains an active instructor at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. 2013 promises to be an even more exciting year in all facets of Jason and his quartet’s continued development.