Jason Marsalis

4 posts

New Orleans Groovemasters

New Orleans Groovemasters Say “Get Back”

Our friends The New Orleans Groovemasters featuring Herlin Riley, Shannon Powell, and Jason Marsalis have a timely new jam. It’s called “Get Back” and it’s not a cover of the 1969 Beatles song. Check it out here.

Messrs. Riley, Powell and Marsalis have been gigging as the New Orleans Groovemasters (a/k/a Groove Masters) for about four years, as far as we can tell. Of course these days there’s not much gigging to be done … except on-line.

This past June the Groovemasters played “Get Back” and much more funky music live on-line. You can watch the entire streamed performance below, on Jason’s Facebook page.

From time to time the Groovemasters lineup includes Roderick Paulin, sax, David Torkanowsky, piano and bassist Jason Weaver. When the pandemic finally burns itself out we can’t wait to see them all live.

Groovemasters Rock the Fest

The Groovemasters played the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2017, and by all accounts it was a blast. You can catch samples of that performance (and snag a copy for yourself) here.

Groovemasters à la Carte

Each one of the Groovemasters is a groove master in his own right. Jason Marsalis regularly fronts his own groups — the 21st Century Trad Band, and the BGQ Exploration (BGQ stands for Benny Goodman Quartet.) You can hear the BGQ Exploration in the clip below.

Of course Shannon Powell, a/k/a the King of Treme, has his own Shannon Powell Quartet, as well as the Shannon Powell Traditional All-Star Jazz Band. Not to mention his collaborations with nearly everybody who’s anybody in New Orleans music.

Here he is in 2016 at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Center, in a show featuring fellow Treme native, John Boutté:

Herlin Riley’s 2019 album is titled Perpetual Optimism — and that’s a philosophy that shines through everything he does. One of our favorite New Orleans percussionists, Riley appeared in 2018 with another New Orleans groovemaster — Johnny Vidacovich. If you missed that concert at the New Orleans New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Center, thank goodness it’s on video:

Jason Marsalis Trad Band

Jason Marsalis Streaming Live

Drummer and vibraphonist Jason Marsalis has a couple of virtual gigs we thought you should know about. Like many musicians these days, Marsalis is streaming live on Facebook.

Tonight at 6:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm Central), Jason Marsalis is going solo as part of Blue Note New York‘s At Home series. “I’m working on the presentation as we speak so I’ll try to deliver a top quality solo show from home. Looking forward to it.” If we know Marsalis, there’s sure to be a nice mix of old standards and new improvisations. We’re looking forward to it as well.

And just a few days later (Thursday, May 28, 7:00 pm CDT) you can hear the The 21st Century Trad Band: Benny Goodman Edition. According to Marsalis: “The group pays homage to the classic 1930’s Benny Goodman Quartet while bringing the music into the 21st century by covering music written after 1930.”

It’s “a fresh take on a classic ensemble … with Jason Marsalis on vibraphone, Joe Goldberg on clarinet, Kris Tokarski on piano, and Gerald T. Watkins on drums.” The show will be streaming on the Jason Marsalis Facebook page.

There’s so much live music streaming these days it’s hard to keep up. We looked ahead at the Blue Note schedule and saw a couple of New Orleans musicians represented: Nicholas Payton, also performing this Thursday, May 28; and Jon Cleary on May 30.

New Orleans radio station WWOZ is offering one way to keep tabs on all the virtual music performances by our homebound local musicians: the WWOZ On-Line Wire. This massive endeavor has one particularly handy feature: click on any performer’s name and go to the location of the livestream. Saves a great deal of searching on Google.

Check it out and enjoy some live, virtual music.


For more than three decades, Friday night was Ellis Marsalis night at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro in New Orleans.

Tonight, in a way, it still is.

In December, 2019, the 85 year old jazz patriarch announced he was stepping away from his weekly commitment, calling it “exhausting.” But Marsalis still planned to appear at the club a couple times a month as a “special guest.”

Ellis Marsalis died on April 1st, 2020 and now Snug Harbor is honoring his memory with a virtual Friday night concert series, starting tonight at 8:00 pm, CDT.

The players include saxophonist Derek Douget, bassist Jason Stewart and trumpeter Ashlin Parker, along with percussionist Jason Marsalis. They’ll all be performing from their respective homes, streaming on the Snug Harbor Facebook page.

Here’s the band to explain:

If, like some of us, you missed the opportunity to hear Ellis Marsalis at Snug … now’s your chance to make up for it by helping some local musicians honor his memory. And don’t forget the virtual tip jar.

New Orleans Jazz Patriarch Ellis Marsalis 1934-2020

Ellis Marsalis“Ellis Marsalis” by gamelaner is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Ellis Marsalis, Jr. has died at the age of 85. His legacy as a performer, teacher and patriarch of one of the great musical families in jazz is immeasurable. Marsalis was a mentor to a Who’s Who of jazz luminaries: Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison Jr., Harry Connick Jr., Nicholas Payton, Kent Jordan, Marlon Jordan, Victor Goines, and Jon Batiste. Four of his sons have become jazz notables in their own right: Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis.

We have an interview with Marsalis and it’s ready for broadcast and streaming right now. Navigate to the Listen menu and scroll to find Ellis Marsalis Jr.

MIO host Gwen Thompkins talked about Ellis Marsalis with NPR’s Rachel Martin for Morning Edition:

Though mentored many famous names in jazz,, Marsalis saw himself more as a facilitator than an educator:

EM: “…if you can facilitate the student through the material that you use to teach and recommend – ’cause a lot of stuff you recommend are things that you may not have on the spot if we are talking about music. You can tell a student, “Look, what you need to do, you need to go listen to standards.” Now, here is somebody who has been spending all their time trying to play like John Coltrane, so you say, “Hey man, that is okay, but you need to go and check out Sonny Rollins.” Become more like a facilitator.”