Jason Marsalis: Jazz In the Blood

Nato nella culla del jazz, Jason Marsalis è un famoso percussionista statunitense che appartiene a una leggendaria famiglia di musicisti. Nell’intervista con Speak Up Marsalis riflette sul passato, il presente e il futuro di questo genere musicale.

USAx2
Molly Malcolm

Speaker (American accent)

Aggiornato il giorno

The Marsalis

Ascolta questo articolo

Stampare

Jason Marsalis is an acclaimed American jazz percussionist and a member of the legendary Marsalis family of musicians. His father Ellis, a renowned pianist and jazz educator, is the patriarch of a musical dynasty that incorporates Jason’s elder brothers Branford, who plays the saxophone, Wynton, who plays the trumpet, and Delfeayo, who plays the trombone. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1977, Jason began his career when he took up toy drums at the age of three. He moved on to violin, but then back to his first love – percussion. He first performed at the age of fourteen and since then has recorded seven albums and played with numerous bands. When Speak Up met with Marsalis we began by asking him what it was like growing up in such a celebrated musical family

Jason Marsalis (American accent): When I grew up, the first four older brothers of mine were no longer in the house. By the time I was six years old they were all gone. And my fifth brother, whose name is Mboya, is mentally handicapped, which means he has an understanding but he’s not verbal. So honestly the house was pretty quiet. Now for me, I think it allowed me to be a privileged musician because I was serious about the music. And I was really into the things that my family was doing. So for me it was of benefit just because of that. I believed in what they were doing. And I believed in listening to records that my father would have, whether it was Duke Ellington or Clifford Brown and Max Roach or Miles Davis, John Coltrane ... But funnily enough it was a lot quieter than you would think. 

LOOKING FOR MELODY

Marsalis plays the vibraphone, an instrument similar to the xylophone that became popular in jazz music in the 1920s. He talked about his interest in the instrument:

Jason Marsalis: It was really a suggestion from my father many years ago. He could see that I was heading in the direction of studying percussion, not only drum-set but in classical music studying timpani and snare drum, marimba et cetera, et cetera. And he suggested that I should get a set of vibes to play. This is something he really does with drummers. He thinks that drummers should all check out the vibraphone because it’s a percussion instrument and it allows you to explore the melodic aspects of music. But it wasn’t until after college that I started to get really serious and start to really practice the instrument and work on it. And then I started to get my own vision of what music I wanted to play. 

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

After spending three years in Richmond, Virginia, Marsalis returned to his birthplace, New Orleans. He said this move had an influence on his music:

Jason Marsalis: It was very inspiring to be in New Orleans at the time and it also helped that both my father Ellis and my brother Delfeayo were consistently doing gigs and I was playing with one or the other, so it was inspiring to be down there.

CATASTROPHE AND RECOVERY

New Orleans suffered terrible damage and loss of life when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. Since then, the city has recovered and updated its image, creating more opportunities for musicians, as Marsalis explained: 

Jason Marsalis: When my older brothers came up they had to go to New York. They had to because they were not going to be able to play with Art Blakey and get signed [with] CBS records. You couldn’t do that living in New Orleans. And at that time nobody was interested in living in New Orleans. Even when we moved back, a lot of the musicians there would go to New Orleans to study with my father and then they would leave to go to New York. But now, with changes in New Orleans, and New York, too, now you have guys coming to New Orleans to live and play. And I’m thinking, yeah, there was a time [when] nobody would do that. And I think that that may have happened anyway but I think the events of Hurricane Katrina sped up that process. 

MAKING MUSIC

Marsalis also studied composition, but soon discovered that there is more than one method to make music: 

Jason Marsalis: You never know where ideas come from, or when they will come. You may hear something and you may be at the grocery store. And you’re like ... “Wait!” And so you have to try to remember it and then write it down and then you may have to work it out later. With composition, I did actually study composition with a gentleman from New Orleans named Roger Dickerson. And the most important thing I learned from him was how to use, how to develop what you have. Even if it’s just three notes. How do you develop three notes? How do you develop four notes? And what is it that can be done with those four notes?

CREATIVITY IS KEY

In fact, for Marsalis the best way to create is to experiment.

Jason Marsalis: I’m reminded of a statement that the legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal said, he said, “Yeah, you know, we don’t really create anything, we discover.”

More in C1 Advanced

Trinity College Dublin: Ireland’s Oldest University
iStock

Places

Trinity College Dublin: Ireland’s Oldest University

È l’università più antica e prestigiosa dell’Irlanda e un importante centro di ricerca di fama internazionale. Tuttavia, è anche un’attrazione turistica molto popolare, che ospita un’enorme biblioteca con una pregiata collezione di artefatti rari, tra i quali spicca lo straordinario Libro di Kells.

Talitha Linehan

Anglopolis: How English Went Global
Free image

Language

Anglopolis: How English Went Global

Durante il regno della regina Vittoria, tra il 1837 e il 1901, l’Impero britannico, che divenne il più potente in assoluto, arrivò a governare su una quarta parte della popolazione mondiale e il numero di anglofoni aumentò di più di cento milioni di persone.

Sarah Presant Collins

More in Explore

20 racconti in inglese per bambini
Adobe Stock

Tips and resources

20 racconti in inglese per bambini

Ti proponiamo una selezione di X racconti in inglese per bambini, stimolanti ed educativi, ideali per incoraggiare l'amore per la lettura e migliorare le competenze linguistiche in modo naturale e coinvolgente.

Natalia Cristiano

TODAY’S TOP STORIES

Trinity College Dublin: Ireland’s Oldest University
iStock

Places

Trinity College Dublin: Ireland’s Oldest University

È l’università più antica e prestigiosa dell’Irlanda e un importante centro di ricerca di fama internazionale. Tuttavia, è anche un’attrazione turistica molto popolare, che ospita un’enorme biblioteca con una pregiata collezione di artefatti rari, tra i quali spicca lo straordinario Libro di Kells.

Talitha Linehan

Domande retoriche in inglese
Canva

Grammar

Domande retoriche in inglese

Le domande retoriche non richiedono una risposta esplicita, ma possono catturare l'attenzione, stimolare la riflessione o suscitare emozioni. Vediamo come formularle in inglese.

Alicia Burton