Ellis Marsalis Jazzes Up EMF Stage
Acclaimed jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis will appear in the second concert of the Eastern Music Festival's Friends and Great Performers series Wednesday, July 16. A New Orleans native, this seasoned pedagogue, pianist and performer has recorded with such notables as Cannonball and Nat Adderley.
Concert tickets start at just $22 and may be purchased by calling 866-579-TIXX, online at www.EasternMusicFestival.org or the Festival Box Office at Triad Stage.
Sponsored by American Express, the concert begins at 8 p.m. in the Dana Auditorium of Guilford College (5800 West Friendly Ave., Greensboro).
Ellis Marsalis is regarded by many as the premier modern jazz pianist in New Orleans. Born Nov. 14, 1934, he began formal music studies at the Xavier University junior school of music at age 11. After high school, Marsalis enrolled in Dillard University as a clarinet major. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in music education in 1955. Marsalis spent the next year working as an assistant manager in his father's motel business.
The following year Marsalis joined the U.S. Marine Corps. While stationed in southern California, he began honing his skills as a pianist on a television show titled "Dress Blues" and a radio show called "Leatherneck Songbook," both shows 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 and his family moved 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. Between 1966 and 1974 Marsalis performed at the Playboy Club (New Orleans), the Al Hirt night club, and the Lu and Charles night club, and he entered the teaching profession again as an adjunct professor at Xavier University.
While the family continued to grow, Marsalis decided to return to school in the early summer session of 1974 working toward a master's degree at Loyola University. Marsalis also interviewed for a teaching position at a new magnet school for the arts and was hired in the fall semester at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts high school where he spent the next 12 years as an instrumental music teacher with a jazz studies emphasis.
In 1986, Marsalis accepted the position of Commonwealth Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He spent two of the three years as coordinator of jazz studies before returning to the University of New Orleans to become the first occupant of the Coca-Cola Endowed Chair of Jazz Studies as the program's director.
Marsalis has been the recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from his alma mater, Dillard University (1989), and Ball State University, Indiana (1997).
Currently in its 47th season, the Eastern Music Festival draws outstanding faculty, distinguished guest artists and talented youth from all over the country and world.
For more information about EMF or its programs, visit www.easternmusicfestival.org, or call toll-free: (877) 833-6753.
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