Ellis Marsalis and Kris Bowers, the 22-year-old winner of the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, recently performed together in New Orleans in a series of music education programs.
The patriarch of the Marsalis family and Bowers performed on duo grand pianos for hundreds of public school students at an assembly program at Warren Easton Charter High School and a master class at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, before presenting a free concert at the Old U.S. Mint in collaboration with New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Bowers also participated in a Black History program at McDonogh 35 College Preparatory High School and “Roots of Jazz” performance at the Old U.S. Mint. The programs were presented by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz with lead funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The performances were intended to highlight the importance of jazz, and educational information was provided at each program. Showcased works by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk were also offered.
Marsalis served on the judging panel at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition last September, which awarded Bowers a first place prize including a $25,000 scholarship and Concord Records contract. Marsalis invited Bowers to join him in the duo piano programs to help serve as a role model. This is the first time Marsalis has performed duo piano with a young protégée since touring extensively with Marcus Roberts in the early ’90s.