Jason Marsalis, the younger member of that Marsalis family, cut his musical teeth as a drummer, starting at the age of 3. But more recently he’s added vibraphone to his repertoire, which he showcased on his 2009 album “Music Update.”
“Really, the vibraphone is a percussion instrument, just like the drum set,” explains Marsalis, 33, who resides in his native New Orleans. “What’s different is you have to play this melodic instrument and be sure the notes you’re playing are correct, the chord changes are correct. That’s the big difference.
“But everything else is the same. Even when I play drums I make sure I learn the piece and know the form and stay aware of all the same things. With vibraphone you’re more concerned with the melodic content, but that’s something I stay aware of while I’m drumming, too.”
Also tricky, Marsalis says, is keeping himself sharp on both instruments.
“It’s a hard balancing act in terms of having to practice, ‘cause they’re so hard to play,” he says. “Sometimes I practice one more than the other, but I’ve been fortunate to do gigs where I even perform on both pretty easily. I try to get in at least an hour a day on each when I can.”
Marsalis hopes to take his vibe ensemble into the studio in 2011 for a new album, which he expects to feature “mostly some original music from not only myself, but also the band members. And we may have one standard on the record. We’ll have to see.”
Jason Marsalis performs Wednesday-Saturday, March 2-5, at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, 97 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Farms. Showtimes are 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday with a $10 cover and 6:30, 9 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday with a $20 cover. Call 313-882-5299 or visit www.dirtydogjazz.com.
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