|Tags:||jazz jazz piano piano new orleans musicologist|
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14 November 1934, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Although he has never really been a revolutionary band leader or pianist, Ellis Marsalis influence on the American mainstream jazz scene cannot be overestimated. As an inspirational figure to a new generation of artists, and an educator and spokesman, this New Orleans-born pianist is unrivalled. Marsalis professional music career began on tenor saxophone while still in high school, but he changed to piano a few years later, performing with such New Orleans-based modern jazz luminaries as clarinettist Alvin Batiste and drummer Ed Blackwell. He spent a brief spell on the west coast (he accompanied Blackwell out there, who was going out to meet up with Ornette Coleman), before signing up for military service with the marines in the mid-50s. His musical career was hardly interrupted by the services, and he soon found himself accompanying singers on CBS television, on the marine-sponsored Dress Blues show.