Ellis Marsalis

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.

In 1964 Marsalis moved his wife and family of, at at time, four sons to the small rural Louisiana town of Breux Bridge where he became a school band and choral director at Carver high school for two years. Returning to New Orleans he began to freelance once again on the local music scene. He set his sights on bebop and formed a small combo with drummer Ed Blackwell, clarinetist Alvin Batiste, and saxophonist Battiste.

With its modern, almost avant-garde style, the group found little work in New Orleans, but it did get the attention of legendary alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Originally from Texas and steeped in that state's R&B style, Coleman found himself at odds with most of New Orleans' jazz scene. He quickly left The Big Easy for California. Once he arrived, he asked Ellis and the rest of the group to follow.

Read more
New York Beat
Album Reviews
Read more articles
January 04, 2019

The Nu Jazz Agency Announces The Inaugural Performance Of The Winners...

June 27, 2018

Marshall University And The Nu Jazz Agency Announce The Winners Of The...

June 11, 2018

Marshall University And The Nu Jazz Agency Announce The Finalists For...

May 28, 2018

Preliminary Judges And Side Personel For The Ellis Marsalis...

May 02, 2018

Marshall University And The Nu Jazz Agency Announce The Launch Of The ...

April 02, 2018

Nu Jazz Agency And Marshall University Announce The Ellis Marsalis...

October 29, 2016

Nu Jazz Entertainment/ELM Records Announces The Vinyl Release Of An...

July 28, 2012

Stephanie Jordan And Ellis Marsalis To Perform For Stevie Wonder At...

May 31, 2012

NEA Jazz Master Ellis Marsalis And Thelonious Monk International Jazz...

April 29, 2012

Stephanie Jordan Added To International Jazz Day Sunrise Concert With...

December 07, 2011

Ellis Marsalis - A New Orleans Christmas Carol (2011)

September 14, 2011

2011 NEA Jazz Master Ellis Marsalis, Releases New Holiday Album...

August 26, 2011

Other Places: The Ellis Marsalis Center

April 20, 2011

Ellis Marsalis Live in San Francisco

January 28, 2011

Grove Park Inn brings big jazz acts to Asheville this weekend

October 06, 2010

Nu Jazz Entertainment Releases The First Jazz "LP" On iTunes--Ellis...

May 30, 2010

Ellis Marsalis, T. S. Monk, Kidd Jordan, and the Jordan Family of Jazz...

September 25, 2009

The Jazz Session #88: Ellis Marsalis

October 17, 2008

The Ellis Marsalis Quintet Featuring Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis, the...

March 15, 2008

Ellis Marsalis Quartet to Release New CD "An Open Letter to Thelonious"...

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

Read more

View More Photos




Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.