Delfeayo Marsalis (pronounced DEL-fee oh) is one of the top trombonists, composers and producers in jazz today. Known for his “technical excellence, inventive mind and frequent touches of humor…” (Leonard Feather, Los Angeles Times), he is “…one of the best, most imaginative and musical of the trombonists of his generation.” (Philip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner.) In January 2011, Delfeayo and the Marsalis family (father Ellis and brothers Branford, Wynton and Jason) earned the nation’s highest jazz honor – a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award. Born in New Orleans on July 28, 1965, Marsalis was destined to a life in music. “I remember my dad (Ellis Marsalis) playing piano at the house, and me laying underneath the piano as a child, listening to him play. After briefly trying bass and drums, in sixth grade I gravitated towards the trombone, which was an extension of my personality. .” Early influences included J.J. Johnson, Curtis Fuller, Al Grey, Tyree Glenn, Tommy Dorsey and Ellington’s trombone masters. Marsalis attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts high school, was classically trained at the Eastern Music Festival and Tanglewood Institute, and majored in both performance and audio production at Berklee College of Music. He earned a Masters degree in jazz performance at the University of Louisville and was conferred a doctorate by New England College. He has produced over 100 recordings for major artists including Harry Connick, Jr, Spike Lee, Terence Blanchard, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and his father and brothers.
Marsalis is an exceptional trombonist who has toured internationally with his own groups, as well as those led by five renowned bandleaders. “Art Blakey taught me patience and purpose in soloing; Abdullah Ibrahim’s sense of harmony is prevalent in much of my music; Slide Hampton inspired me with his extraordinary command of the trombone and the language of jazz; and Max Roach played with conviction and dexterity all the time. Elvin Jones (who is featured on Delfeayo’s 2006 CD Minions Dominion) taught me about humanity, expressing myself through music, and most importantly, how to keep time.” The lessons of these legendary artists can be heard throughout Delfeayo’s compositions and improvisations still today. To inspire New Orleans youth through arts education, Delfeayo founded the Uptown Music Theatre in 2000 and has implemented its Kidstown After School in three New Orleans grammar schools. Delfeayo released Live at Jazz Fest 2011 with The Uptown Jazz Orchestra, and in 2014, he took the group to Africa to perform at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz event. In addition, he has composed over 80 songs that help introduce kids to jazz through musical theatre and has reached over 5,000 students nationally with his Swinging with the Cool School soft introduction to jazz workshops.