Branford Marsalis-the legendary jazz musician hails from Louisiana. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 and devastated the area, he felt the need to give back in some way. The newest release from the Marsalis family is called Music Redeems – A Live Recording to Benefit the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. The live, sold-out concert was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. during a celebration last June for his father, Ellis Marsalis, who received “The Duke Ellington Jazz Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.” The family came together to perform at the celebration for their father; family friend Harry Connick Jr., also performed at the concert.
“Performing with my family is great, just like it always is,” said Branford Marsalis.
Ellis’ sons have followed in their father’s footsteps and become extraordinary performers. Branford played the saxophone, while Wynton was on trumpet, Delfeayo on trombone, Jason was on drums.
Music Redeems was released only a few days before the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, as all proceeds from the album will help fund the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. The center for music will be used as tool for community development as New Orleans continues to rebuild. It will be the final component of the New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village. The center will include classrooms and practice rooms for the after-school music program and a 150-seat performance space with state-of-the-art lighting and sound.
As for his contribution to raising money, Marsalis says that helping people through music is the way he was raised.
“I don’t think of it as how it makes me feel when I help these people,” he said,
“I think we all have a responsibility to help those in need when we can. I am just doing what I was taught when I was growing up. We all are.”
The music center, which was conceived in 2005 by Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. in partnership with New Orleans Habitat for Humanity, hopes to be up and running by spring 2011, according to Branford Marsalis. Music is a big part of New Orleans, and the center will help bring some more music back to the lively city.
By Peter Tartaglione