Ellis Marsalis is regarded by many as the premier modern jazz pianist in New Orleans. Born on November 14, 1934, he began formal music studies at the Xavier University junior school of music at age eleven. After high school Marsalis enrolled in Dillard University (New Orleans) as a clarinet major. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education in 1955. Marsalis spent the next year working as an assistant manager in his fathers’ motel business.
The following year Marsalis then joined the U.S. Marine Corps and while stationed in southern California began honing his skills as a pianist on a television show entitled Dress Blues and a radio show called Leatherneck Songbook. Both shows were sponsored by the Marine Corps. After completing a stint in the Marine Corps Marsalis returned to New Orleans and married Dolores Ferdinand, a New Orleanian, who bore him six sons; Branford, Wynton, Ellis III, Delfeayo, Miboya and Jason.
New York Beat
Read more articles
Marsalis and saxophonist Derek Doughet share a telepathic empathy that infuses the entire group building a synergistically cohesive performance unit. - C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz
Marsalis keeps Monk's music very much alive with his inspired interpretations of the legend's compositions. - Ken Dryden, Rovi All Music Guide
Ellis Marsalis Jr. captures the Monk magic leading his quartet in performing unique renditions of his compositions. - Edward Blanco, E jazznews
Ellis Marsalis, at 73 a lucid, subtle, laconic pianist, shines up these tunes, leaving sufficient space while weaving phrases in and around the solos