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Marsalises Release a Family Affair

You’d think it would have happened already. That the Marsalises, the current first family of jazz, would have put out a record together and sold a million copies (OK, a few thousand copies). Well, the idea had been in the air for years, but it wasn’t until recently that brothers Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason were able gather together onstage with Papa Ellis to create the most obvious of contemporary jazz concept albums.

On the occasion of Ellis’ retirement from the University of New Orleans, the family collected in the Crecent City, along with bassist Roland Guerin to play to a sold-out Kiefer UNO Lakefront Arena. The band changed throughout the night to feature different family members in trio and quartet settings, plus a sextet version of “Twelve’s It” with Ellis’ piano protégé Harry Connick, Jr. who made a guest appearance. Connick also performed “St. James Infimary” with another non-Marsalis, trombonist Lucien Barbarin, while the family presumably took a break to sort out who was going to get to ride in the front seat on the way home after the show. It was probably Wynton.

On February 4, 2003, Marsalis Music, the new label created by Branford, will release the concert as The Marsalis Family: A Jazz Celebration. A Marsalis Family national tour, DVD and PBS special are also in the works.

Track list:

Swingin’ at the Haven

The Surrey with the Fringe On Top

Wynton Speaks

Cain and Abel

Nostalgic Impressions


Sultry Serenade

Twelve’s It

Harry Speaks

Saint James Infirmary

Struttin’ with Some Barbecue

Originally Published