Jason Marsalis is the youngest member of the illustrious Marsalis clan, but his accomplishments would make fitting laurels for an octogenarian. A drummer who established his career on the red-hot New Orleans jazz scene, he spent more than a decade in the Marcus Roberts Trio, one of jazz’s most accomplished and stylistically encompassing ensembles, and co-founded the Afro-Caribbean jazz combo Los Hombres Calientes with percussionist Bill Summers and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield.
He is a savvy producer and prolific composer as well, performing internationally with conductor Seiji Ozawa for interpretations of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Concerto in F.” In recent years he’s concentrated on the vibraphone, launching the beautifully calibrated quartet featured on his newest album 21st Century Trad Band (and at this concert). Exploring a vast range of material, including compositions by Bobby Hutcherson and Hermeto Pascoal, the quartet focuses on Marsalis’s finely wrought originals and material contributed by the band, which often employ tricky time signatures and intricately lapidary textures. While the quartet plays with the dynamic control and precision of a chamber ensemble, the band’s bluesy authority and improvisational firepower leave no doubt why Marsalis was named an NEA Jazz Master along with his father Ellis and his brothers Branford, Wynton, and Delfeayo.