Marsalis Family Brings New Orleans Romance To Fontana Series

Apr 16, 2015

Ellis and Delfeayo Marsalis

NOTE: This story was published in 2015 on the eve of a concert by Delfeayo Marsalis and Ellis Marsalis. On April 1, 2020, Ellis Marsalis died of complications from COVID-19.

Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis's musicianship was born of a longstanding New Orleans tradition: older generations playing side-by-side with younger generations. Mr. Marsalis recently stepped away from his usual role as record producer to get in front of the microphones with his father, Ellis Marsalis, for an album called The Last Southern GentlemenBoth Delfeayo and Ellis Marsalis will appear on the Fontana series Friday night.

As Delfeayo sees it, jazz could stand to recover its romantic, seductive side after an experimental period in the 1970s and 80s that pushed the genre to new possibilities, but often appealed more to the head than the heart. A composer himself, his preference is to play his own works, but for this project, he acceded to his father's request to record the old standards, especially ballads. A classically-trained musician, he took the time to learned them by ear, from the interpretations of singers like Billie Holiday.