Drummer and vibraphonist Jason Marsalis, since age 3, has had the distinct opportunity to hone his skills alongside jazz luminaries. In addition to performing with his preeminent father Ellis Marsalis since he was 9 years old, Jason has been touring with acclaimed pianist Marcus Roberts since 1994 at age 17. Despite a demanding performing schedule, he graduated from the New Orleans Creative Arts High School, studied classical percussion at the Eastern Music Festival, attended Loyola University, and studied composition with notable classical composer, Roger Dickerson at Southern University.
Inspired by the sounds and compositional philosophy of the great trios of Errol Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Nat Cole and Oscar Peterson, Jason draws on his own extensive knowledge of jazz history and styles in expressing his elaborate drum style. In addition to five albums under his own name including, Year of the Drummer (1998), Music in Motion (2000), Music Update (2009), Year of the Mallets (2013) #1 on the CMJ Radio charts, and 21st Century Trad Band (2014), Jason has recorded with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Marcus Printup, Marcus Roberts, Wynton Marsalis, John Ellis, and has performed on several CDs with Ellis Marsalis. He has appeared with Joe Henderson, Lionel Hampton, Dr. Michael White, Bela Fleck, and has performed interpretations of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Concerto in F” with the renowned conductor Seiji Ozawa. Jason also recorded and produced an album of Thelonius Monk’s music with Ellis Marsalis entitled, “An Open Letter to Thelonious”.
Jason has worked with a diverse cross section of bands on the New Orleans scene like Casa Samba (Brazilian), Neslort (jazz fusion) and the Summer Stages Band. He was co-founder the Grammy nominated Latin-jazz group, Los Hombres Calientes, and is part of the Native Jazz Quartet. He has served on faculty at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), and the University of New Orleans.
Jason started to play the vibraphone on gigs in New Orleans in 2002, developing another dynamic chapter in his career as he went on to record with clarinetist Tim Laughlin and drummer Shannon Powell while starting to lead his own band on vibes. In April of 2008, he was invited to play vibraphone with the legendary Lionel Hampton Orchestra at the Ogden Museum in New Orleans. Together with his father and brothers, Jason was a recipient of the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award.