One of the most famous of New Orleans’ multigenerational jazz families, it is extraordinarily rare for the Marsalis clan to assemble all together in one place. However, approaching Father’s Day of last year, the family gathered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to honor its patriarch and the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Ellis Marsalis. With sons Branford on saxophones, Wynton on trumpet, Delfeayo on trombone, Jason on drums, poet Ellis III reciting a piece written especially for his father for the occasion, and special guests Dr. Billy Taylor and family friend Harry Connick, Jr., Ellis inspired an evening of lively performances of repertoire with special meaning to the Marsalis Family, punctuated by family stories and anecdotes about growing up in New Orleans.

All proceeds from the project will go straight to programming support for the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, an education center and heart of the New Orleans Musicians’ Village community, conceived in 2005 by Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. in partnership with New Orleans Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina.

Track Listing

Introducing…The Marsalis Family 1:49 Play
Donna Lee 6:56 Play
Wynton And Branford Speak 2:13 Play
Monkey Puzzle 8:23 Play
After 4:56 Play
Syndrome 6:10 Play
Sweet Georgia Brown 5:03 Play
Harry Speaks 2:51 Play
Teo 7:59 Play
The Man And The Ocean 4:14 Play
At The House, In Da Pocket 9:51 Play
The 2nd Line 6:35 Play

Liner Notes

Honoring a Father
Honoring a Tradition
Honoring the Rebirth of a City

On the eve of Father’s Day 2009, one of New Orleans’ most celebrated jazz families gathered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to honor jazz icon and treasured educator, Ellis Marsalis. With sons Branford, Wynton, Ellis III, Delfeayo, and Jason each performing their respective crafts and bringing their exceptional talents to a program of Marsalis family compositions, jazz standards, original poetry and a traditional New Orleans 2nd Line, the family joined together to celebrate their father’s lifelong dedication to jazz as an educator, musician, and composer.

No family reunion is complete without a few good stories, and this evening was no exception as the Marsalis sons and special guest, Harry Connick, Jr., shared a few anecdotes about growing up in New Orleans, Ellis’ commitment to his family, and their appreciation for the kind but no-nonsense pillar behind all of the Marsalis men, Ellis’ wife and the sons’ mother Dolores Marsalis.

The Marsalis Family’s musical growth and excellence could not have developed in the same way without the ever-present influence of the city of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005 and devastated their home city, Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr. joined forces with New Orleans Habitat for Humanity to rebuild a wasteland in the Upper Ninth Ward into a thriving community of homes for displaced residents, giving special consideration to those bastions of New Orleans culture, her working musicians. The New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village is comprised of seventy-two single family homes and five elder living duplexes, and as we near the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, construction is currently underway for what will soon be the heart of the community; the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music will be 17,000 square foot community facility designed to provide residents of the new Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village and their neighbors with a place to study, perform and record music with practice rooms, an after-school music program, recording spaces a music library, and a performance hall.

It has been said that there is no better way to pass on the tradition of New Orleans music than to have a place where young people can go and learn from educators like Ellis Marsalis. Proceeds from the sales of this album will fund programming at the community center, named to honor the Marsalis Family’s patriarch and one of New Orleans’ most beloved musicians and educators. With you purchase of this recording, you too have contributed to this legacy. And for this, we thank you.

Marsalis Music recorded the extraordinary June 15, 2009 Marsalis Family concert and we are thrilled to share with you this joyous celebration of one man, his family, their heritage, and the spirit of the city that inspired them all.

The Man and The Ocean
Written for the Occasion of a Tribute to Jazz Master Ellis, Marsalis, Jr., 2009
By: Ellis Marsalis III

Delivered on June 15, 2009 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. to culminate the week-long celebration of Duke Ellington.

Inside the theory of the big bang
Amidst the high energy of the source of all things
Are these two relatives
Special and general
As far as relatives go
This is about the special ones
The ones that comprise the mixture
Of mandatory and magic

As the necessary collisions and expansions
produce billions of elements
2 constitute matter
One – the bangs keen sense of balance
The other that bright shining light
This one end – of special

It is difficult to resist the litany of
Paternal anecdotes
Dads and football, dads and fishing
And the ever so popular, if sometimes exaggerated
Dads and the ass-whipping as metaphor
For foolish youth

To be sure this is ours as well—-
But for only a sliver
More mysterious than mathematical
Or the essence of playing the dealt hand
To the highest order possible

Nothing forced, all steady as she goes
And his matter
Some unexpected concoction of African,
West and east
To be the heart of that light
Not the presence of all matter
But the presence of all that matters

What a more apt metaphor for this life
Than the journey toward this music,
Not mythically ideal
But soup-stained and pock-marked all the way in
What could it be but this music
That becomes not the backdrop for who he has been
But the edifice that introduced us boys to the man
And then the world

Once the all encompassing sun of our youth –
Diminishes – slowly
Direction replaces fear
But always seen and not foreseen
There floating, bobbing up and down
Not the right answer, not the direct road
But the best thing he could have been
A beacon, that flashing light –
Being and showing all at once

Not the individual intent
Of some grand plan
But the individual intent
Of the present moment
Devoid of any measurable grandiosity
The simple discipline of the task at hand

And for each of us when we’ve faced the dark
Becoming our own lights our own beacons

Sure of some things
Unsure of others
We look back
Before the line breaks
Before white dwarf

Seeing that bobbing light
Not to ask “is that you pop”
But to pay close attention
And to know

Although the line not straight

TRUE

Wishing that in our best imitation
Of that light
That flashing light
That beacon

We would be so much the better
To have nearly
As much grace

Sidemen

Ellis Marsalis (Piano), Branford Marsalis (Saxophones), Wynton Marsalis (Trumpet), Ellis Marsalis III (Spoken Word), Delfeayo Marsalis (Trombone), Jason Marsalis (Drums, Vibes & Whistling), Harry Connick, Jr. (Piano), Eric Revis (Bass), Herlin Riley (Drums)