A Distinctive Style Magazine

Issue 11

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Delfeayo Marsalis by Kristan Bourestom Mr. Delfeayo Marsalis captures my attention in the first ten seconds of our interview when he tells me, “A person is attracted to the instrument that is most like their own personality.” As such, he found himself drawn to the trombone, “the mild mannered, and peace keeper of the band.” The middle son of six, two of whom are well known jazz musicians Branford and Wynton Marsalis, I soon learn why the trombone chose Delfeayo. ADS: So tell me what it was like growing up in such a musical family. DM: Because of our generation, Branford and Wynton where coming up in the late 60’s, and the shifting that was happening in the country my mother’s main focus was to provide us with access to as many opportunities as possible. Music was part of what we did but we were in the Boy Scouts, sports, student council. My parents were interested in our keeping an open mind, with an emphasis on achieving perfection in whatever we participated in. ADS: With exposure to so many things did you ever think something, other than music, might be your calling? DM: I have always liked literature and I liked creative writing. But other than that no, there wasn’t anything else I ever thought I would do other than music. That’s why I think I got into musical theatre because it combines the music with the writing. ADS: So music has always been your passion? DM: Oh yea! I was just talking to Branford about how we make our records for each other. I produced so many years for Wynton, now when he does his records he’s wondering what I am going to think about them. It affects what his final product is. As it turns out, Delfeayo Marsalis affects a lot. He has produced over 100 recordings, made a comment about the bass direct in the mid 80’s that resulted in a complete shift in acoustic jazz and influences multitudes of young musicians through his Uptown Musical Theatre program, now in its 10th year. And if that isn’t enough, he is coming out with his own orchestrations of Duke Ellington’s music based on Shakespeare, entitled, Sweet Thunder in August. “I influenced Branford and Wynton for so many years but because it was behind the scenes my impact hasn’t been well documented. I want to come out with this because, like the dreaded bass direct, it will change the whole sound of acoustic recordings. I think this will offer another approach to how jazz is presented.” Just like the instrument he chose, Delfeayo Marsalis quietly works behind the scenes, influencing the course of an entire generation of Jazz, yet never quite tooting his own horn (pun intended). So next time the jazz siren calls, think about the man behind the music when you hear the trombone. For details on concert dates and locations visit Mr. Marsalis’ website at www.dmarsalis.com A Distinctive Magazine Summer 2010

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