ABOUT DELFEAYO MARSALIS AND THE UPTOWN JAZZ ORCHESTRA
Delfeayo Marsalis (pronounced Dell FEE Oh) is one of the top trombonists, composers and producers in jazz today. Known for his “technical excellence, inventive mind and frequent touches of humor…” (Leonard Feather, Los Angeles Times), he is “…one of the best, most imaginative and musical of the trombonists of his generation.” (Philip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner.) In January 2011, Delfeayo and the Marsalis family (father Ellis and brothers Branford, Wynton and Jason) earned the nation’s highest jazz honor – a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award.
Marsalis is an exceptional trombonist who has toured internationally with his own groups, as well as those led by five renowned bandleaders. His debut CD Pontius Pilate’s Decision (1992) was inspired by biblical tales, and 2010’s stunning Sweet Thunder gives the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn suite Such Sweet Thunder a modern day makeover. Rather than merely recreating the classic work, which is comprised of musical depictions of characters from William Shakespeare’s plays, Marsalis took the work as a point of departure for his octet, creating fresh and new music with inspired performances. Sweet Thunder earned a place on numerous top CDs of the year lists and wide critical acclaim including 4 stars in USA Today and 5 stars in the Financial Times. Marsalis also created an original theatrical jazz production, Sweet Thunder: Duke & Shak, which toured widely in 2011. He recently served as Music Producer for the upcoming film Bolden!, a mythical account of the life of Buddy Bolden, the first Cornet King of New Orleans.
Among Marsalis’ six CDs as a leader are the 1997 quintet date Musashi, which was praised by the All Music Guide for its “passionate originals… willingness to take chances and stretch himself and the result is consistently stirring post-bop music.” The Last Southern Gentlemen (2014) is his first album-length collaboration with his father, Ellis. Incorporating his writings—including an essay on the sociological/historical themes that define the recording, commentary on the music, and original stories, children’s tales and poetry—The Last Southern Gentlemen saw New Orleans jazz royalty combine for an album of swinging playing and sociological heft. The CD earned rave reviews including 4.5 stars from Monarch Magazine. As Jennifer Odell writes in DownBeat, “Throughout the album, the performers prioritize warmth, tranquility and restraint while imbuing melodies and solos with the lyrical sentiments at the heart of the original music.” And Marc Myers of JazzWax writes, “Marsalis exhibits a beautiful tone throughout as he’s accompanied by his father and pianist Ellis Marsalis, bassist John Clayton and drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith. A contemplative, embracing release from top to bottom.”
Marsalis has also been long involved in work as an educator. To inspire New Orleans youth through arts education, he founded the Uptown Music Theatre in 2000 and has implemented its Kidstown After School in three New Orleans grammar schools. He
released Live at Jazz Fest 2011 with The Uptown Jazz Orchestra, and in 2014, he took the group to Africa to perform at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz event. In addition, he has composed over 80 songs that help introduce kids to jazz through musical theatre and has reached over 5,000 students nationally with his Swinging with the Cool School soft introduction to jazz workshops.