Friday, June 12, 2009

Marsalis Family Kicks off Music Series at White House

So maybe President Obama WASN'T just giving lip service when he said he liked jazz.

Jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, and his more famous sons -- trumpeter Wynton and saxophonist Branford -- next week will lead jazz classes for 150 middle-school and high-school students at the White Houses. Ellis's other jazz-playing sons, Delfeayo (trombone) and Jason (drums), are also scheduled to participate.

(In this 1990 Life magazine photo, from left to right - Jason, Branford, Wynton and Ellis).

The session, on Monday, is part of the first event in a White House music series promoted by Michelle Obama. That evening, the students will attend a concert featuring alto saxophonist and clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera, and an ensemble led by 14-year-old pianist Tony Madruga. The Marsalises, one presumes, will also do some playing.

Read the New York Times report here or the news item on Wynton's site.

On Jan. 20, Wynton's quintet played for Obama and his guests at a private party celebrating the inauguration.

Here's hoping that the Obama administration continues supporting all the visual and performing arts, particularly jazz. With jazz mags folding or scaling back, jazz musicians having a tougher time finding gigs, school jazz programs fighting for funding, and jazz fests facing financial troubles, the music can use all the support it can get.

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