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The Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet closed out the 51st Mid-South Jazz Festival on Saturday

The Clarksville Community Concert AssociationClarksville, TN – The 51st Mid-South Jazz Festival closed out on Saturday with a concert by the Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet in the Music/Mass Communication Building Concert Hall on Austin Peay State University. The concert was put on by the Clarksville Community Concert Association (CCCA) and the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts; and sponsored by The Leaf Chronicle, and the Clarksville Arts and Heritage Development Council.

The Mid-South Jazz Festival is a three-day musical event in the APSU Music/Mass Communication Building Concert Hall that was founded in 1961 as a way of bringing jazz musicians to Clarksville to work with APSU students. It has since morphed in the last 26 years, under David Steinquest’s leadership, into one of the region’s most successful, professional jazz experiences. Luminaries such as the Joel Frahm Quartet, pianist Fred Hersch and even Jason Marsalis’ older brother Delfeayo have visited the University over the years as part of the festival.

The Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet
The Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet

“We wanted it to have that totally professional experience,” Steinquest said. “This may be the only time a lot of our students see a professional jazz group. It’s even hard to find that in Nashville. If you don’t go to New York or Los Angeles, you don’t get to see these people.”

That is exactly what the Clarksville Community Concert Association got in booking the Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet for the festival’s signature performance. The sounds of the vibraphone kept the audience in a state of rapture that was only broken by the audiences vigorous applause that rang throughout the performance in spite of the classical concert hall etiquette which usually requires you to wait until the number of complete before showing your appreciation for the performance.

The Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet
The Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet

After the concert Marsalis and the band came out to the lobby to visit with students from Stewart County High School who were special guests at the evenings performance. Many of the young folk asked for autographs, and one one young lady even had Marsalis sign her forehead.

The Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet includes three musicians that have worked with Marsalis in varying capacities through their working relationship with Marcus Roberts. They are Austin Johnson (piano), David Potter (drums),  and Will Goble (bass).

From a young age it was clear that Jason Marsalis had what it took to be great. Jason is the son of pianist and music educator Ellis Marsalis and his wife Dolores, and the youngest sibling of Wynton, Branford and Delfeayo. Together, the four brothers and Ellis comprise New Orleans’s venerable first family of jazz.

Jason Marsalis
Jason Marsalis

Starting out primarily as a drummer, Jason Marsalis drew wide-spread acclaim for his unique interpretations of modern jazz with such groups as the Ellis Marsalis trio and Marcus Roberts trio. However, with the release of 2008’s “Music Update,” listeners began to recognize Marsalis for his unique sound on the vibraphones.

Described as “powerful” and “prodigal,” Marsalis as a vibraphonist was touted by the New York Times as “an excellent musician” producing “records that are always worth hearing.” The Chicago Tribune exclaimed, “Those who value serious musicianship, sensitive phrasemaking and thoroughly idiomatic performances of a broad span of repertoire will find [his] work deeply satisfying.”

Since 2000, Marsalis has been a mainstay on the New Orleans scene as a band leader from the vibraphone chair. These groups have performed at Snug Harbor, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, The Jazz Playhouse, and The Satchmo Summerfest. Marsalis has also appeared at many of the foremost jazz venues through the US and Canada, and has toured Europe on the summer festival scene.

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