Trombonist, composer, and producer Delfeayo Marsalis is a highly regarded jazz performer and a member of the famed Marsalis family. Born in New Orleans in 1965 to esteemed jazz pianist and professor Ellis Louis Marsalis, Jr., Marsalis grew up alongside his five siblings including saxophonist Branford Marsalis, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and younger brother drummer Jason Marsalis. Interested in music from a young age, he initially started out on bass and drums before settling on the trombone in sixth grade. As a teenager, he attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the Eastern Music Festival, and the Tanglewood Institute, during which time he studied classical music and jazz. After high school, he majored in both performance and audio production at the Berklee College of Music. Marsalis also holds a master's degree in jazz performance from the University of Louisville and was conferred a doctorate by New England College.
As a performer, the trombonist gained valuable experience touring with such luminaries as Ray Charles, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. He also has an extensive list of producer credits, having helmed recordings with his brothers Branford and Wynton as well as albums by Harry Connick, Jr., Donald Harrison, Marcus Roberts, and others. As a solo artist, he debuted in 1992 with the Biblically inspired Pontius Pilate's Decision. He returned with Musashi in 1997, followed by the Elvin Jones tribute album Minions Dominion in 2006. Sweet Thunder, a reworking of Duke Ellington's suite incorporating Shakespearean themes and characters, appeared in 2010. In 2014, Marsalis paired with his father, Ellis, for the urbane, standards-heavy The Last Southern Gentlemen. Two years later, he delivered the politically minded Make America Great Again!, which showcased the debut of his large ensemble the Uptown Jazz Orchestra. ~ Matt Collar