Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet
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 their patriarch Ellis, comprise New Orleans venerable first family of jazz.
By age six, not only had Jason received his first real drum set, but he was also taking lessons from the legendary New Orleans drummer James Black. At age seven he was sitting in with his father’s jazz group, as well as playing with his trombonist brother Delfeayo. Jason was progressing so rapidly as a drummer that in 1984 his father started using him consistently on engagements.
In 1995, shortly after graduating from the acclaimed New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts High School, Marsalis ascended to the drum throne of a new group lead by virtuoso pianist and former sideman for Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts. Despite a demanding touring schedule with Roberts, Marsalis furthered his educational goals by attending Loyola University in New Orleans, as well as studying composition with notable classical composer, Roger Dickerson.
While Marsalis made appearances with such international jazz luminaries as Joe Henderson and Lionel Hampton, he was visible on the New Orleans scene working with a diverse cross section of bands from Casa Samba (Brazilian), Neslort (jazz fusion) Summer Stages (children’s theater), Dr. Michael White (traditional jazz) and many others. In 2000, Jason left the Los Hombres group to attain more focus with the Marcus Roberts trio. It was around that time the Marsalis started to play the vibraphone on gigs in New Orleans. This evolved in yet another chapter in Marsalis’ career as he recorded on the vibes with clarinetist Tim Laughlin and drummer Shannon Powell while starting to lead his own band on vibes.
In 2015 Jason’s career took a slight hit after Hurricane Katrina. After living in Brooklyn for a year, Jason returned to New Orleans in 2007 to put the pieces back together. In January 2008 The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) called for him to start teaching the students. He also started working on the traditional jazz scene with musicians such as Lars Edegran and Tommy Sancton at Preservation Hall and Palm Court Jazz Cafe. It was in April of 2008 that Marsalis was asked to play the vibraphone with the legendary Lionel Hampton Orchestra at the Ogden Museum in New Orleans. In fall of that year, he was on a double-bill tour with Double-wide and a jazz-fusion group from Denton, Texas, Snarky Puppy. After that tour, Marsalis would make guest appearances with the group and has developed a following amongst the groups fans.
In 2009, the Marsalis Family would receive the NEA Jazz Masters award. In June of that year, the family would appear at the White House and the Kennedy Center to do a tribute show to their father. The concert was made into an album entitled, “Music Redeems”. Later that year, Marsalis would release his first new album in 9 years and his debut album on vibes, “Music Update”.
From 2010 to 2012 Jason took part in numerous ensemble features and recordings. 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. There was even recordings from the drum kit as Marcus Roberts released three recordings that year. Two with Wynton Marsalis, “Together Again - In the Studio” and “Together Again - Live in Concert”, and the ambitious original trio suite from Roberts, “From Rags to Rhythm”. Marsalis' latest recordings included the follow-up album as a leader, "The 21st Century Trad Band", and an album he produced for his father entitled "On the Second Occasion", both released in 2014. 2016 brings the newest release entitled "Heirs of the Crescent City", a soundtrack to the film "Heirs", a documentary about the traditions and cultures of New Orleans passed on through generations.
With each passing year Jason Marsalis continues to grow and develop as both a composer and performer. With a fire in his heart and a passion for the music, his will to swing has never been more resolute. The maturity and the command he possesses over his music is clearly evident to those who have heard or seen him.