Jazz Greats Wynton and Ellis Marsalis Welcome Tulane Students With Concert

January 12, 2006

Mike Strecker
Phone: 504-865-6210

Jazz great and New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis, a Pulitzer Prize winner and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, will perform a concert for returning Tulane students, faculty, staff and the New Orleans community on Monday, January 16 at 7 p.m. in the McAlister Auditorium, Tulane University.

Marsalis will speak about the life and legacy of Dr. King, reminisce about his youth in New Orleans and play some of his favorite jazz numbers alongside his father and pianist Ellis Marsalis, drummer Herlin Riley and bassist Reginald Veal. Pianist Ellis Marsalis was born on November 13, 1934.

After graduating from Dillard University and serving in the Marine Corps, he chose to pursue a career as a modern jazz musician in New Orleans. As a founding member of the American Jazz Quintet, Ellis and equally visionary contemporaries including clarinetist Alvin Batiste, saxophonist Harold Battiste and drummer Edward Blackwell charted new directions for jazz in New Orleans in the 1950s.

In 1974, he became the director of Jazz Studies at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, an arts high school that draws talented young musicians from all over the city. Among the students who received the benefits of Ellis' instruction are Terence Blanchard, Harry Connick, Jr., Donald Harrison and Nicholas Payton, as well as his own children.

After his sons achieved success in the 1980s, the wider world belatedly discovered Ellis' talents as both musician and educator. He began recording and extended his teaching efforts to the college level. It was at the concert marking his retirement from a faculty position at the University of New Orleans that Ellis Marsalis & Sons gave its first public performance.

Without a bassist in their ranks, Ellis Marsalis & Sons have called upon the services of Reginald Veal to complete their ensemble. Veal was born in Chicago on November 5, 1963, but grew up in New Orleans, where he came into contact with the Marsalis family early on. After studies at Southern University, he has performed extensively with Ellis, Branford and Wynton Marsalis, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and the groups of Terence Blanchard/Donald Harrison, Eric Reed and Nicholas Payton, among others.

Herlin Riley was born into a musical family in New Orleans, Louisiana and began playing the drums at age three. Riley was a member of Ahmad Jamal's band from 1984 through 1987, and has performed and/or recorded with Dianne Reeves, Marcus Roberts, Dr. John, Harry Connick, Jr., George Benson, Steve Turre and The Clayton Brothers among others.

His theater experience includes playing in One Mo' Time and Satchmo: America's Musical Legend. In the spring of 1988, he joined Wynton Marsalis's Septet, with which he toured and recorded for six years. Riley has performed regularly with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra since it began touring in 1992. Riley, one of "the finest jazz drummers of our time" according to the New York Times, has released two recordings as a leader, Cream of the Crescent in 2005 and Watch What You're Doing in 2000.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000