On August 24, 2010, Marsalis Music and Redeye Distribution will release a rare, new album by New Orleans’ own, The Marsalis Family, recently honored by the National Endowment for the Arts with a 2011 Jazz Masters Award Fellowship. All proceeds from the project will go straight to programming support for the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, an education center and heart of the New Orleans Musicians’ Village community, conceived in 2005 by Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. in partnership with New Orleans Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina.
One of the most famous of New Orleans’ multigenerational jazz families, it is extraordinarily rare for the Marsalis clan to assemble all together in one place. However, approaching Father’s Day of last year, the family gathered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to honor its patriarch and the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Ellis Marsalis. With sons Branford on saxophones, Wynton on trumpet, Delfeayo on trombone, Jason on drums, poet Ellis III reciting a piece written especially for his father for the occasion, and special guests Dr. Billy Taylor and family friend Harry Connick, Jr., Ellis inspired an evening of lively performances of repertoire with special meaning to the Marsalis Family, punctuated by family stories and anecdotes about growing up in New Orleans.
The sold-out concert was a testament to Ellis’ talents as an educator, composer, and musician, and to the one-of-a-kind Marsalis family, who have made an indelible mark on the jazz tradition. Marsalis Music recorded this incredible concert and now listeners are invited to join this appreciation of a man who mentored so many of New Orleans’ finest musicians, and the celebration of family, heritage, and the spirit of the city that inspired them all.
All proceeds from the sale of this new album, titled “Music Redeems,” will fund community and music education programming at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, currently under construction at the center New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village. Since its inception, the Musicians’ Village has grown into a community of seventy-two single family homes and five elder living duplexes in the Upper Ninth Ward for residents of New Orleans who were displaced by the Hurricane Katrina.
Construction of the Ellis Marsalis Music Center is scheduled to be completed in the late spring of 2011 and will offer the Musicians’ Village and its neighbors a place to study, perform, and record music with practice rooms, an after-school music program, recording spaces, a music library, and a performance hall. The Center will provide an environment for the great musicians and teachers of New Orleans to pass along their traditions to future generations, fostering an appreciation for the past and thus securing a commitment to the future of a unique culture which continues to sustain the city and its citizens in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
The motto of the Musicians’ Village and the title of the Marsalis Family album is “Music Redeems,” and despite the damage inflicted by the storm, the bedrock upon which the culture of New Orleans still lies is its music. At the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina devastation of New Orleans and its musician community, the release of this album from the Marsalis Family marks another building block in the road to rejuvenating the cultural bedrock of New Orleans.