Marsalis brings Uptown Jazz Orchestra, taste of New Orleans to CSB

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February 19, 2019

By Connor Kockler ‘22

Take a stroll down a New Orleans street, and you’ll see historic French buildings, Bourbon Street and the smell of delicious Cajun food.

But most of all, you’ll hear world-famous music.

jazz orchestra

Delfeayo Marsalis , of the renowned Marsalis jazz family, is bringing that New Orleans charm to the College of Saint Benedict. Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra will be performing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at Escher Auditorium on the CSB campus as part of the Fine Arts Series at CSB and Saint John’s University.

Trombonist Marsalis comes from famous roots. He is the son of pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr., and the brother of saxophonist Branford, drummer Jason and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

Delfeayo Marsalis and the Marsalis family earned the nation’s highest jazz honor - A National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in 2011.

In Delfeayo’s long career, he has performed internationally under five different bandleaders, including Art Blakely, Abdullah Ibrahim, Slide Hampton, Max Roach and Elvin Jones. He formed the Uptown Jazz Orchestra (UJO) in 2008 as a multi-generational group of New Orleans’ best musicians to bring the tradition and essence of jazz music to audiences, and to bring that sound to school students in the New Orleans area.

Delfeayo Marsalis brings a youthful, enthusiastic vibe while leading the orchestra. This isn’t your father’s jazz, but rather music you can move your feet to. Soloists take turns showing off their incredible individual talent, allowing you to see each instrument played to its fullest effect.

“NEA Jazz Master and Grammy award-winning producer Delfeayo Marsalis has garnered a reputation for presenting first- class shows that seamlessly combine a high level of musicianship and entertainment value, to the delight of audiences worldwide,” the website Iron City Ink wrote. “Their repertoire ranges from New Orleans street band songs, swing, bebop and the blues to modern and contemporary jazz, always giving listeners a wide-ranging musical experience. Steeped in New Orleans groove, Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra deliver the true essence of jazz … with edge, sophistication and good old-fashioned fun!”

He has released several individual albums. His debut CD, “Pontius Pilate’s Decision (1992) was inspired by biblical tales, and 2011’s stunning “Sweet Thunder” gives the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn suite “Such Sweet Thunder” a modern-day makeover. “Sweet Thunder” earned a place on numerous top CDs of the year lists and wide critical acclaim.

In 2014, Delfeayo collaborated with his father on “The Last Southern Gentlemen.” Again, the album was a hit with critics, who raved about the warmth and tranquility of the album. He has also released “Musashi” in 1997, and “Minions Dominion” in 2006.

The Uptown Jazz Orchestra had a live album, “Live at Jazz Fest 2011,” released, followed by the 2016 release, “Make America Great Again!” In 2014, he took the group to Africa to perform at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz event.

Marsalis has also worked extensively as a producer. Starting at age 17, he has produced over 100 albums for many major recording artists, including Harry Connick Jr., Spike Lee, Terence Blanchard, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and his father and siblings.

Delfeayo has also been long involved in work as an educator, according to his website. To inspire New Orleans youth through arts education, he founded the Uptown Music Theatre in 2000 and has implemented its Kidstown After School program in three New Orleans grammar schools. He has also composed over 80 songs that help introduce kids to jazz through musical theater.

Expect to be amazed as these talented musicians harness their collective skills to create moving compositions that evoke soulful emotion and feeling.

The show at CSB will be split into two 45-minute sets, with a 15-minute intermission.

Tickets are $27 for adults, $24 for seniors and $20 for CSB/SJU faculty and staff. Youth and students (with ID) get in for $15, and CSB/SJU student tickets are $10.

For tickets, call the Benedicta Arts Center Box Office at 320-363-5777 or order online.

If you’re also looking for a taste of New Orleans, a pre-performance dinner is being held at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 16 in the President’s Dining Room, Gorecki Center, CSB. Guests will enjoy a menu including chicken and sausage jambalaya, red beans and rice, Cajun seasoned roasted vegetables, French bread and Doberge cake. The cost is $21 per person.

For tickets to the dinner, call the Benedicta Arts Center Box Office at 320-363-5777 or order online.

This performance is sponsored in part by Palmer Printing, Centrasota Oral Surgeons and The Club Fitness.