VIC FIRTH ARTIST
“Music is always in motion,” states Jason Marsalis, and whenever he’s behind the drum kit, the music moves with graceful swing and crackling intensity, hurtling away from the familiar into fresh, exciting territory, like a bullet train headed from New Orleans to Chicago and on to destinations unknown.
Not only is he a part of the famous New Orleans jazz tradition, which has created innumerable legendary drummers, such as Warren “Baby” Dodds, Ed Blackwell, James Black and Herlin Riley, he belongs to a renowned musical family; his father Ellis and older brothers Wynton, Branford, and Delfeayo have dramatically influenced the jazz world for almost two decades.
Jason is no exception, possessing the technical virtuosity, innate rhythmic aplomb and the compositional ingenuity associated with his forbearers. But deep roots haven’t prevented him from also developing a refreshingly progressive approach, fueled by eclectic influences (he’s just a likely to reference Igor Stravinsky, Tito Puente and Billy Cobham as Max Roach and Art Blakey) and diverse professional associations in his native New Orleans
In the last several years, besides studying classical percussion at Loyola University, he’s worked as a sideman in contexts ranging from his father’s modern trio and other local straight ahead combos to funk fusion bands, a Brazilian percussion ensemble, and even a Celtic group. He’s also joined acclaimed pianist Marcus Roberts’ trio, a partnership fostering creative growth in Marsalis which Roberts recently described as a “spectacular. He’s shaped his own vocabulary far beyond anything I could have shown him.”