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PBS airs "Ellis Marsalis: Jazz Is Spoken Here"

Ellis Marsalis: Jazz Is Spoken Here profiles the renowned pianist, influential teacher, inspirational role model and father of distinguished musicians Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis. The one-hour program, airing on PBS Thursday, February 17, 2000, 10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings), also offers outstanding musical performances.

Interviews with Marsalis' well-known sons, Branford, Wynton and Delfeayo, and with musicians and teachers Danny Barker, Donald Harrison and Kidd Jordan of the Jazz and Heritage School of Music affirm Marsalis' message of musical and personal integrity.

In Ellis Marsalis: Jazz Is Spoken Here, Marsalis talks about teaching musicians and children, and what he has learned about music and life. The documentary observes him at the University of New Orleans, wearing his two hats - "teacher" and "coach," pulling out performances and sharing music theory in an easy, unaffected way. The program also visits the high-school big band class at the New Orleans Center for Contemporary Arts, where Marsalis established a jazz program that produced a generation of nationally recognized jazz musicians and is now sowing the seeds of the next.

Original jazz recordings provide an evocative backdrop to the program - from the opening sequence with James Black's "Whistle Stop," to Danny Barker's signature "Save the Bones for Henry Jones," a Gershwin duet with Marcus Roberts and a rehearsal and stage performance with Ellis and Branford, Delfeayo and Jason. They play a poignant "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and wail on "Br'er Rabbit," an original composition by Delfeayo.

Ellis Marsalis: Jazz Is Spoken Here, showcasing thoughtful interviews and vibrant renditions of America's musical art, provides evidence that a life lived to the fullest is one that combines a personal struggle for excellence and a commitment to younger generations.


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