Delfeayo Marsalis, jazz royalty
By Don Valentine
The Gold Coast Jazz Society presents Delfeayo Marsalis this Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. He is universally recognized as one of the top trombonists, composers and producers in jazz today. Not to mention being part of the Marsalis lineage. There are multiple Grammy awards between Branford, and Wynton. His father Ellis was his early musical inspiration; as a young toddler he listened to him play while sitting under the piano.
This prodigious background led to earning the nation’s highest jazz honor – a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award. Philip Elwood of the San Francisco Examiner described him as “…one of the best, most imaginative and musical of the trombonists of his generation.” In a recent interview, Delfeayo noted, “After briefly trying bass and drums, in sixth grade I gravitated towards the trombone, which was an extension of my personality. Early on, my influences and inspirations included J.J. John-son, Curtis Fuller, Al Grey, Tyree Glenn and Tommy Dorsey.”
His musical passion evolved into making him a producer of worldwide fame. “When I was in fifth or sixth grade, my brother Branford showed me how to create a feedback loop on a reel-to-reel machine. At that time there was a real need in the family for demo tapes. In fact I was recording Wynton when he was in high school. When I was in seventh grade, he challenged me to have his demo tape sound on the same level as Maurice Andre’s classical studio recordings. It was all trial and error and I learned a great deal.” A teen producing prodigy, since 17 he has produced over 100 recordings for major artists including Harry Con-nick, Jr., Marcus Roberts, Spike Lee, and Terence Blanchard.
In addition to his musical acumen Marsalis has been an adjunct educator. In 2004, he eared an MA in jazz performance at the University of Louisville and was conferred a doctorate by New England College in 2009. He lectured in schools in 1995 on behalf of the Dallas Opera and the Bravo cable network.