NOW, A JAZZ MOMENT...
MUSIC: Sultry Serenade
Ellis Marsalis: Sometimes people would say, "Well how'd you get involved with music?" I'd say, "Well, I was too slow to run track, too short to play basketball and too light to play football, and music was the only thing left for me." [laughs] So that's what I did.
NEA JAZZ MASTER ELLIS MARSALIS WAS BORN AND BRED IN NEW ORLEANS, ONE OF THE GREAT MUSICAL CITIES IN THE WORLD. HE'S NOW THE UNASSUMING PATRIARCH OF WHAT SOME CALL "A MUSICAL DYNASTY" WITH FOUR SONS HAVING BECOME NOTED PROFESSIONAL MUSICIANS. IT PUTS ELLIS'S HUMBLE ROOTS INTO PERSPECTIVE...
Ellis Marsalis: Now, the first professional job that I had was with this group called the Groovy Boys. It's corny but we thought it was OK at the time (laughs). And we went to the YWCA and played this job, which was free. And we made a dollar and a half a piece. [laughs] You know, after that I said, "Man, you know what" I said, "We can do this, we can make more money than a dollar and a half." [laughs] So that's when we started functioning. Trying to play at these dances. And we used to make, used to make five dollars a gig. [laughs]
MUSIC: up for punctuation, then fades under and out
THIS JAZZ MOMENT WITH PIANIST ELLIS MARSALIS WAS CREATED BY THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS. I'M CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE.
Ellis Marsalis remembers his roots with the Groovy Boys