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Ellis Marsalis, Jr.

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Information about Ellis Marsalis, Jr.

Profile image of Ellis Marsalis, Jr.

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Jazz Pianist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Sky Blue
Favorite Food:
Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Savannah, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland
Favorite Quote:
What Are You Prepared To Do?

Birthplace

Born:
11/14/1934
Birth Location:
New Orleans, Louisiana

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Jazz Pianist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Sky Blue
Favorite Food:
Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Savannah, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland
Favorite Quote:
What Are You Prepared To Do?

Birthplace

Born:
11/14/1934
Birth Location:
New Orleans
See how Ellis Marsalis, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Jazz pianist and music professor Ellis Louis Marsalis, Jr., was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 14, 1934. As a youth, Marsalis played clarinet. From the age of eleven, he studied the clarinet at Xavier University's Junior School of Music (New Orleans), a preparatory course for the university. He would later ask his mother to get him a tenor saxophone so he could begin playing Rhythm "n Blues, the popular music of the day. He added piano to his studies while still in high school.

Marsalis entered Dillard University (New Orleans) in 1951 as a Freshman music major. In 1955, Marsalis earned his B.A. degree in music education. For the next year he worked as an assistant manager in his father’s motel business while continuing to freelance with the American Jazz Quintent which consisted of Alvin Batiste, tenor saxophonist Harold Battiste, Ed Blackwell on drums and Richard Payne on bass. The group found little work in New Orleans, but they persevered.

In 1956, Ornette Coleman sent for Edward Blackwell to hoin him in Los Angeles and after a conversation with Harold Battiste, he and Marsalis decided to go with Blackwell to Los Angeles. While there, Marsalis and Blackwell played with Ornette Coleman for a short time. But by the end of the summer, Marsalis received a draft notice so he had to return home for a physical. In January of 1957, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps for a two-year stint. Marsalis spent all of his military service stationed in southern California, where he played piano for a weekly CBS television show, the Marine-sponsored "Dress Blues," and a radio show called "Leather Songbook," also sponsored by the Marince Corps. After his military service, Marsalis returned to New Orleans and married Delores Ferdinand. Eventually, the two would have six sons: Brandford, Wynton, Ellis III, Delfeayo, Miboya and Jason.

In 1964, Marsalis moved his wife and family to the small town of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana where he served as the band and choral director of Carver High School. In 1966, Marsalis returned to New Orleans and led the house trio at the Playboy Club. After leaving the Playboy Club, Marsalis was asked to join the Al Hirt band from 1967 to 1970, he had the piano chair in Al Hirt's Dixieland group.

In 1974, Marsalis joined the staff at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts High School (NOCCA), where he worked for the next twelve years. There, he would influence the careers of countless musicians, including trumpeter Terence Blanchard, pianist Harry Connick Jr., saxophonist Donlad Harrison, and his four musician sons, Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason. In 1986, Marsalis earned his M.M. degree from Loyola University New Orleans.

From 1986 to 1989, he taught at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he spent two years as coordinator of Jazz Studies. In 1989, Marsalis received an Honorary Doctorate degree from his alma mater, Dillard University, and that same year, he joined the faculty of the University of New Orleans. Marsalis served as Director of Jazz Studies until his retirement in 2001. He would be the recipient of honorary degrees from Tulane University (2007), The Juilliard School, Ball State and Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010. Marsalis has served as panelist, grant evaluator and board member for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Southern Arts Federation. On December 7, 2008, Marsalis was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Ellis Marsalis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 10, 2010.

See how Ellis Marsalis, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ellis Marsalis, Jr.'s interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his mother's personality and siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his maternal grandparents, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his mother's Creole heritage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his maternal grandparents, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his mother's education and occupation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his father's upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his paternal grandmother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his paternal grandparents' courtship
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his father's motel
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his father's personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his father's money management
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about how his parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers the Danneel Public School in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his early academic interests
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his community in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his community in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his schooling in Shrewsbury, Louisiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers the F.P. Ricard School in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his early musical instruction, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his early musical instruction, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers Gaudet High School in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers playing with the Groovy Boys in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the development of his musical style, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls learning to play bebop
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the development of his musical style, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers forming the American Jazz Quintet
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his decision to move to Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls teaching at Xavier University Preparatory School in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the founding of AFO Records
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his experiences at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers playing with the Corps Four, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers playing with the Corps Four, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls recording with the Ellis Marsalis Quartet
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about the development of jazz music
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his style of jazz
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers meeting his wife
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his sons
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls recording an album with the Adderley brothers
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about the early record industry
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers moving to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his work for the Southern Rep Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers the Playboy Club in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls joining Al Hirt's band in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls the celebrity patrons of his father's motel in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the Storyville Jazz Band
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the creation of the ELM Music Company
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his master's degree from Loyola University New Orleans
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls joining the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his recordings with Columbia Records and Eddie Harris
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his sons' starts as musicians