Three Minutes, Three Questions: Defeayo Marsalis

Three Minutes, Three Questions: Defeayo Marsalis

Part of the “first family of jazz,” Delfeayo Marsalis, an acclaimed trombonist, composer and Grammy Award winner will bring his “Big Easy” sound with the Uptown Jazz Orchestra to the Walton Arts Center at 7 p.m. Nov. 20 as part of the 10×10 Arts Series. He took a moment to answer a few questions from What’s Up! ahead of his show.

Q. Why do you think New Orleans-style jazz is more uplifting than other styles?

A. Well, back in the day, New Orleans was the real melting pot because of the number of immigrants from different countries. Even though the social circumstances weren’t ideal, the African traditions and influences were —and remain— very strong. When I visited South Africa a few years back, it all made sense. The people had a sense of innocence and consciousness that reminded me of the folks back home. So, I’d say that African element is strong in everything people love about New Orleans — the music, the food, the dance, and of course, that Southern hospitality!

Q. In what ways does your family’s long tradition in preserving jazz — specifically your father’s immense work in jazz education — influence both your compositions and your youth outreach programs?

A. “Preserving” is a tricky phrase, because it implies being more true to the past than the present. The blues and swing are important elements in the music, so we emphasize those aspects while keeping up with more popular elements — gogo, rap or bounce music, for example. What we consider New Orleans jazz has roots in funk and R&B. Musicians from other cities might have a tougher time because they don’t grow up hearing the brass bands in the streets, so their understanding of what jazz includes is very different.

My dad’s music in the ’50s and ’60s was unique in New Orleans and not accepted very well because it was modern in the land of R&B. A couple of his compositions have been very influential on me in terms of how the bass and melody interact.

Because young people are inundated with popular vocal music and no instrumentals any more, it’s important that those of us who are able to play the real jazz keep introducing the younger generations to it.

Q. Will you tell us a little about the Uptown Jazz Orchestra?

A. Early on UJO played more classic repertoire like Basie and Ellington, and while we occasionally play certain gems, our focus is on telling a more current story. Brass band, traditional, swing, bebop, modern, funk, gospel … we cover it all. More importantly, we like to have fun and put the audience in a good mood.



Delfeayo Marsalis

WHEN — 7 p.m. Nov. 20

WHERE — Walton Arts Center, 495 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville

COST — $10


Categories: Music