Celebrating New Orleans with Delfeayo Marsalis main content.

Celebrating New Orleans with Delfeayo Marsalis

by AMNH on


Delfeayo Marsalis winking through his trombone
Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis will perform at the Museum on April 28 to celebrate New Orleans. © Keith Major

As part of the national celebrations for Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) in April, the Museum will honor jazz’s birthplace on Saturday, April 28, with the day-long Global Weekends programNew Orleans: Culture Remixed. Headlining the event is famed jazz trombonist and music producer Delfeayo Marsalis, whose family includes saxophonist Branford Marsalis, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, drummer Jason Marsalis, and pianist Ellis Marsalis. Delfeayo recently answered a few questions about his music.

What was it like growing up in a family of famous jazz musicians?

I think the great part about my family is the amount that all the brothers influenced, encouraged, and inspired each other. There’s the question of sibling rivalry, but that’s only one part of it. The old-school way is that competition is always going to bring out the best. In music, it’s similar to when Beethoven or Mozart were composing, and they had their contemporaries: they were competing, but they were also inspiring and being inspired. That’s always been important for my family. Even if it’s competition with yourself, you say, ok, I will play better than I played yesterday.

What’s unique about playing the trombone?

It’s actually an instrument with much responsibility. It’s the bridge between the rhythm section and the horn section, so sometimes we play like the tuba or bass, sometimes we harmonize with trumpet and sax or clarinet, and other times we play counterpart. In New Orleans style, the trombone needs the most flexibility.

What should people look forward to about New Orleans: Culture Remixed?

If they missed Mardi Gras, we’re going to re-create it for them. It will make them realize they gotta get to New Orleans soon and check it out. New Orleans is one of the only places in the world where you can have an entire festival of the music from that city. It’s the original survival city, and jazz is the original survival music. We go through turmoil, but we bounce back, and like the phoenix, we rise.