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Ellis Marsalis


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Ellis Marsalis is regarded by many as the premier modern in New Orleans. Born on November 14, 1934, he began formal music studies at the Xavier University junior school of music at age eleven. After high school Marsalis enrolled in Dillard University (New Orleans) as a clarinet major. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education in 1955. Marsalis spent the next year working as an assistant manager in his fathers motel business.

The following year Marsalis then joined the U.S. Marine Corps and while stationed in southern California began honing his skills as a pianist on a television show entitled “Dress Blues” and a radio show called “Leatherneck Songbook”. Both shows were sponsored by the Marine Corps. After completing a stint in the Marine Corps Marsalis returned to New Orleans and married Dolores Ferdinand, a New Orleanian, who bore him six sons; Branford, Wynton, Ellis III, Delfeayo, Miboya and Jason.

In 1964 Marsalis moved his wife and family of, at at time, four sons to the small rural Louisiana town of Breux Bridge where he became a school band and choral director at Carver high school for two years. Returning to New Orleans he began to freelance once again on the local music scene. Between 1966 and 1974 Marsalis would perform at the Playboy Club (New Orleans), in the Al Hirt night club, Lu and Charles night club and enter the teaching profession again as an adjunct professor at Xavier University(New Orleans).


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  • no-paradigm

    What a shame that this great musician (my favorite of all Jazz artists) has only a single shout! I have loved Marsalis' music every since I was a fairly young boy. About two years ago I visited New Orleans, and I passed by a bar and read that he had payed there only two days earlier... I was SO... shall we say irritated! There was my one chance of seeing him perform live (I'm from Germany, so I don't get to hang out in new Orleans clubs all too often ;->), and I missed it by two days...

    11 Aug 2010 Reply

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