Saturday, February 24, 2018

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra

This week, let's take a look at some videos featuring trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, who will be in St. Louis to perform next Saturday, March 3 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Born in New Orleans into one of that city's most famous musical families, Delfeayo Marsalis is the son of pianist Ellis Marsalis, younger brother of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and older brother to percussionist Jason Marsalis. Now 52 years old, he's a graduate of Berklee College of Music, earned an MA in jazz performance from the University of Louisville in 2004, and, with his father and brothers, received the NEA Jazz Masters Award in 2011.

If he's not quite as well known to the casual jazz listener as his older brothers, it may be in part because Delfeayo has done a lot of his work behind the scenes as a producer, overseeing recordings for his dad and his brothers Wynton and Branford; musicians from their orbit including pianists Marcus Roberts and Kenny Kirkland and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts; and many others, including Terence Blanchard, Ruth Brown, Irvin Mayfield, Donald Harrison, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Harry Connick Jr., Mingus Dynasty, the late Elvin Jones (who also employed Marsalis in his band for several years), and more.

He's also the founder of the New Orleans-based Uptown Music Theatre, which over the past 18 years has trained hundreds of young people while staging original musicals based on a mission of "community unity."

Marsalis formed the Uptown Jazz Orchestra in 2008 to help introduce New Orleans students to the city's musical traditions, with a membership drawn from the substantial local contingent of working jazz players, often including baritone saxophonist Roger Lewis of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. In recent years, they've become a touring attraction as well, and in 2016 released their first album, Make America Great Again. In addition to the UJO's album, Marsalis has recorded six albums as a bandleader, the most recent being Kalamazoo, which came out in 2017.

You can get a feel for Marsalis and the UJO's sound in the first video up above, which shows an extended excerpt from their performance at the 2013 New Orleans French Quarter Festival.

After the jump, you can see them performing the title song from their debut album Make America Great Again, complete with sardonic commentary from Marsalis, as recorded on February 15, 2017 at Dizzy's Club in NYC.

Next, there are three songs recorded earlier this month by an audience member at the Frank Mantooth Jazz Festival at New Trier Township High School in Winnetka, IL, starting with "Put Your Right Foot Forward" from their debut album, followed by “Vine Street Rumble” and a version of Charles Mingus' “Moanin’.”

Last but not least, there's a promotional clip for the UJO from 2013, with some musical excerpts and Marsalis speaking about the band's purpose and approach to music.

For more about Delfeayo Marsalis, listen to this interview from December 2017, in which he talks about the state of jazz, his latest solo album and more; and read this review and interview from 2016, which covers the release of the UJO's debut album.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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