ellis marsalis

Critic's picks: Harry Connick, Jr. Trio, 'Music From The Happy Elf'; Ellis Marsalis, 'A New Orleans Christmas Carol'; Geri Allen, 'A Child Is Born'

Publication: Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Walter Tunis
Date: December 12, 2011

How curious it is that three of the finer releases in an especially weak pack of new holiday recordings belong to jazz pianists whose take on yuletide sounds could not be more varied?

Pianist Harry Connick Jr.’s Music From The Happy Elf may be the most unexpected of the three. A veteran of several Christmas-themed recordings that showcase his big band and traditional (as well as overtly commercial) pop preferences, Elf presents the pianist in one of his most inviting and overlooked settings: the piano trio.

It’s hard not to smile at the percussive cracks of drummer Arthur Larkin and Connick’s sparse piano mischief during Naughty Children of Bluesville (which sounds like O Tannenbaum trying to escape from a blues cellar) or the way the light, lullaby turns of Christmas Day melt into the intimate swing of What a Night.

Music From The Happy Elf is, aside from a 10-minute opening medley with narration, completely instrumental. Add to that the fact that all of the music is original (but revisited from works Connick composed for the stage musical The Happy Elf) and you have a holiday recording risky and refreshing. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 12th, 2011 — 03:58pm

Ellis Marsalis Music Center crowns Musicians' Village

By Bill Capo
Eyewitness News
August 25, 2011

NEW ORLEANS — There was a standing room only crowd, with actress Renee Zellweger in the audience, for the dedication of the new Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, the centerpiece of Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians Village project in the Ninth Ward.

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis played key roles in developing the Musicians Village, and the center, but as performers, they called this hall acoustically perfect.

“You’re in the middle of the Upper 9th Ward,” said Connick.  “You’ve got the highest level of state-of-the-art technical facility here. it is like all these worlds coming together.”

“You could bring a string quartet in here, and they could play without one shred of amplification, and everybody in here could hear every note in here regardless of the volume,” raved Marsalis.

“You could also bring Dr. John in here with his full band, and people would love every minute of it.”
Read more »

New Releases: Branford Marsalis / Joey Calderazzo

Publication: Philadelphia Inquirer
Author: Karl Stark
Date: June 26, 2011

Songs of Mirth and Melancholy
(Marsalis Music ***1/2)

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis has done duet recordings with just his father, pianist Ellis Marsalis, and fellow New Orleans native, crooner Harry Connick Jr. Here the tenor and soprano saxophonist takes up with Joey Calderazzo, the pianist of his quartet since 1998, for a session that is surprisingly sublime.

Marsalis and Calderazzo sound classical in the best jazz sense: handsome melodies creating beauty and lots of free space for interaction. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on June 27th, 2011 — 02:53pm

New Orleans Jazz: Charles Betts on the addictive music of Harry Connick, Jr.

Publication: Felix Online
Author: Charles Betts
Date: February 28, 2011

New Orleans music is an addiction. Its diversity portrays every emotional state and as the legendary jazz musician Ellis Marsalis puts it, at a time when individualism is becoming an endangered species, the sounds of the Bayou represent a celebration of the individual. Put simply, without it life would be emptier.

Harry Connick Jr. is arguably the city’s most famous living export, having obtained more number-one albums than any other artist in US jazz chart history. He has taken his native music across the globe, to the delight of audiences that stamp and cheer to the joyful noise. He has re-created the next-best thing to Mardi Gras at venues including the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Salle Pleyel in Paris, and on Broadway in New York.
Read more »

Branford Marsalis, Alexander Glazunov, And The Commodores

Publication: Lament for a Straight Line
Author: Jim Macnie
Date: February 23, 2011

Steve Smith says Branford Marsalis brought a “gracious poise” to Glazunov’s “Concerto for Alto Saxophone And String Orchestra” last week at a New York Phil show. A few weeks prior, when I sat down with the five Marsalis men who are working musicians, the subject of growing up with the Glazunov cropped up, too. Patriarch Ellis, a longtime educator and superb jazz pianist, ruminated on the rigors of addressing classical works. And then Branford and brother Wynton weighed in with a quip or two. The entire Q&A is coming out in the April issue of Down Beat, due in two weeks. Here’s part of the piece that had to be edited out for space reasons. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 28th, 2011 — 03:55pm

Ellis Marsalis is a father, a musician, and much more

Publication: Kansas City Star
Author: Joe Klopus
Date: February 9, 2011

You have to bloom where you’re planted.

For Ellis Marsalis, pianist and patriarch of a musical dynasty, that meant blooming as a creative modern-jazz pianist in the traditional-jazz soil of New Orleans, where for a long time there wasn’t much demand for what he was putting down.

The conditions weren’t favorable, but Marsalis, who brings his quartet to the Folly Theater on Friday, still managed to become something of a local legend in the Crescent City, even before his kids became famous and the whole jazz world started paying attention. He bloomed as a teacher and mentor, and not just to his own family. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 10th, 2011 — 02:58pm

Ellis: The Elder

Publication: Columbia Daily Tribune
Author: Aarik Danielsen
Date: February 6, 2011

Just two months in, 2011 has already been a banner year, a true benchmark, for jazz’s first family. Last month, the five musical Marsalises — pianist and patriarch Ellis, world-famous trumpeter and composer Wynton, versatile saxophonist Branford, trombone great Delfeayo and dynamic drummer Jason — were collectively named one of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters, the highest honor an American jazz musician can hold. It was the first time the honor was bestowed upon a group. Despite the unbelievable musical wattage each member possesses, when the time came to pick a spokesman for the brood, there was no doubt who would take center stage.New York Times writer Nate Chinen set the scene, detailing how Ellis the elder delivered a humble, wistful acceptance speech that paid tribute to jazz masters “past and passed on.” He and his sons then took the bandstand together for a surprisingly rare collaboration, “a brightly buoyant finale.”

Submitted by Courtney on February 7th, 2011 — 03:17pm

New Names on Jazz's Honor Roll

Publication: New York Times
Author: Nate Chinen
Date: January 12, 2011
Jazz is a living art, its lexicon in a perpetual state of renewal. But it also has a clear, strong center, as an art form and as a set of practices. That’s one reason for the aftershocks that inevitably follow the loss of an important jazz elder. And it’s one more reason for the continuing cultural value of the NEA Jazz Masters awards, which have been bestowed each year since 1982 by the National Endowment for the Arts. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 21st, 2011 — 02:14pm

The Marsalis Family: Music Redeems

Publication: JazzTimes
By: Michael J. West
Date: January/February 2011
 

Anyone who thinks the Misters Marsalis offer no surprises need only hear “Donna Lee,” the opening track on Music Redeems, a straight-ahead concert recording of a family tribute to pianist and patriarch Ellis Marsalis. The track features Ellis, trumpeter Wynton and the youngest scion, Jason, whistling on the theme and an improvised solo. The whistling itself is a great surprise, but even greater is that Jason outdoes Wynton in imagination and unpredictability. It’s an early high point among many on this excellent, if somewhat flawed, album.

Ellis is the star of Music Redeems, both as headliner and player. He has a light touch and equally light rhythm, filling a group arrangement of his original “Syndrome” with delicate dance figures, and a lyrical solo performance of “After” with the gait of a Broadway routine.

Submitted by Courtney on January 4th, 2011 — 12:26pm

Ellis Marsalis: Heart of Gold

AAJNY Ellis Marsalis cover imagePublication: All About Jazz- New York
By: Laurel Gross
Date: January 2011

Ellis Marsalis Jr. has accomplished a lot during his distinguished life in jazz - creating beauty as a firstclass pianist and composer, guiding and inspiring budding musicians through his unswerving devotion as an educator in or near his hometown of New Orleans and with his wife Dolores producing a family of six that includes four high-achievers with notable jazz lives of their own.
Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 3rd, 2011 — 12:30pm