New music spotlight: Jason Marsalis

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Published on: January 16th, 2016


Jason Marsalis [Photo by Hunter King]
Jason Marsalis [Photo by Hunter King]


Jason Marsalis on vibraphone at WWOZ in 2014 [Photo by Kichea S. Burt]
Jason Marsalis on vibraphone at WWOZ in 2014 [Photo by Kichea S. Burt]

"There's an element of fun that is often missing in today's jazz music." Jason Marsalis brings the fun back to modern jazz with his latest release, Heirs of the Crescent City. This album serves as accompaniment to an independent documentary about the various traditions that are passed on through families in New Orleans. There is none better qualified to provide a soundtrack to such a film than a Marsalis, a New Orleans family rich with jazz tradition. The documentary, entitled Heirs, covers customs of Mardi Gras Indians, Mardi Gras, and music.

Jason covers new musical ground by taking influence from the Mardi Gras Indians, Wild Magnolias, Eddie Bo, and the songs of Mardi Gras for this unique soundtrack release. He also puts a new spin on some very recognizable tunes, including adding an original harmony to the Louis Armstrong classic 'When It's Sleepy Time Down South' reworked as 'The South Is Asleep.' He also twists 'Didn't He Ramble' as played by Thelonious Monk into a delightful 'Didn't Monk Ramble.' A beautiful version of 'Indian Red' sits happily in the middle of the record.

Accompanying Jason on Heirs of the Crescent City are Ashlin Parker on trumpet, Joe Goldberg on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Austin Johnson on piano, Peter Harris and Jasen Weaver on bass, and Geoff Clapp on drums. You can preview the album at Allmusic or purchase it on CD from Amazon.

Jason celebrated the release of this album with a performance at Snug Harbor on January 9. He will perform there again on January 17 with his Vibes Quartet, at the Pavilion of Two Sisters on January 14, and at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe on January 13 and 27. Check the WWOZ online Livewire Music Calendar for other upcoming Jason Marsalis performances in New Orleans.



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