Jason Marsalis was born on March 4, 1977 in New Orleans, Louisiana and is the youngest son of pianist Ellis Marsalis. Inheriting the virtuosity and compositional skills associated with the Marsalis family, Jason developed a distinctive, polyrhythmic drumming style. His first professional gig was with his father at the age of twelve, he studied classical percussion at Loyola University in New Orleans, and has worked as a sideman with straight-ahead combos, funk fusion bands, with Casa Samba, a Brazilian percussion ensemble and even a Celtic group.
Jason introduced percussionist Bill Summers to trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and together they co-founded the wildly successful Los Hombres Calientes. Then, at the height of that band’s popularity he left to join up with acclaimed pianist Marcus Roberts.
Most recently, Jason has been playing vibraphone, releasing his first album as a leader on vibes in 2009 titled “Music Update”. Earning 4.5 out of 5 stars in Downbeat Magazine, it showcases Jason playing the vibes with his working quartet as well as several over-dubbed drum ensembles titled the “Disciplines”.
Jason also continues to work as a sideman with among others Marcus Roberts, Ellis and Delfeayo Marsalis, John Ellis, Dr. Michael White and Shannon Powell. Along with his father and brothers, he is a recipient of the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award and is featured in the non-fiction film on New Orleans jazz culture, “Tradition Is A Temple”.
Samuel David “Dave” Bailey was born on February 22, 1926 in Portsmouth, Virginia. He studied drumming in New York City at the Music Center Conservatory following his stint in the Air Force in World War II.
Dave played with Herbie Jones from 1951-53, and later with Johnny Hodges, Charles Mingus, Lou Donaldson, Curtis Fuller, Billy Taylor, Art Farmer, Ben Webster, and Horace Silver. Between 1954 and 1968 he played on several recording sessions led by Gerry Mulligan, and during the 60s he also played with Clark Terry, Kenny Dorham, Lee Konitz, Cal Tjader, Roger Kellaway and Bob Brookmeyer.
In 1957 and 1958 he performed at the Newport Jazz Festival and appeared in the documentary “Jazz on a Summer’s Day”. He recorded and released “One Foot In The Gutter” in 1960 on the Spanish label Lonehill Jazz. He followed up that recording with another “Gutter” release of the recording “Two Feet In The Gutter”. Although he is not commonly credited for his role in helping popularize the bossa nova in the ’60s, Bailey learned the rhythm while touring South America in 1959 and helped many American drummers master the sound.
A solid swing and bop drummer, Dave retired from music in 1969 and became a flight instructor. From 1973 he worked in music education in New York and among other pursuits, he served as executive director of The Jazzmobile in New York City.
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Wallace Bishop was born February 17, 1906 in Chicago, Illinois and started on drums as a teenager, studying under Jimmy Bertrand. His first professional gig was with Art Sims and his Creole Roof Orchestra in Milwaukee in 1926. Around this time he also played with Jelly Roll Morton, Bernie Young, Hughie Swift, Richard M. Jones and Tommy Dorsey.
Often addressed as “Bish”, from 1928 to 1930 he played with Erskine Tate followed with the Earl Hines Orchestra from 1931-1937. By the 1940s he was playing with Jimmie Noone, Coleman Hawkins, Don Redman, Phil Moore, Foots Thomas, John Kirby and Sy Oliver among others.
While touring Europe with Buck Clayton in 1949, Wallace elected to remain there, and found work both with noted European jazz musicians and with touring or expatriate Americans, including Bill Coleman, Don Byas, Ben Webster, Kid Ory, Milt Buckner, Buddy Tate and T-Bone Walker. Bishop recorded only two pieces as a bandleader in 1950, with a trio, but he continued to record regularly into the 1970s.
Wallace Bishop, a subtle and supportive jazz drummer who was one of the finest drummers of the swing era, passed away on May 2, 1986 in Hilversum, Holland.
Arthur Mardigan was born February 12, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan. As early as 1942 age 19 he was playing drums with Tommy Reynolds prior to a two-year stint in the Army. After his discharge he worked extensively on the New York City jazz scene, playing and recording with George Auld, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Kai Winding, Wardell Gray and Fats Navarro.
In the 1950s he went on tour with Woody Herman and Pete Rugulo, he recorded as a leader of a sextet that included Al Cohn in 1954 for The Jazz School, recorded with Stan Getz also in 1954 and then moved back to Detroit. There he played with Jack Brokensha in 1963, returning to work with Getz near the end of his life. Drummer Art Mardigan passed away on June 6, 1977 in his hometown of Detroit.
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Big Bill Bissonnette was born February 5, 1937 in Bridgeport, Connecticut who became a jazz trombonist and producer. A strong advocate of New Orleans jazz played by Black musicians in the Sixties he led his group The Easy Riders Jazz Band.
During that period Bill also established his own Jazz Crusade label and organized northern tours for such veterans as Kid Thomas Valentine, George Lewis and Jim Robinson. After a period off the jazz scene, Bill successfully published of his 1992 memoirs, “The Jazz Crusade” that told many stories about New Orleans’ musicians.
Bissonnette reactivated his label and began to play trombone again. He has produced and recorded over 100 jazz sessions for his Jazz Crusade label, appearing as trombonist or drummer on over 50 recording sessions of New Orleans jazz.
He has spent much of the 1990s documenting the British jazz scene with his “Best of the Brits” CD series. He published a newsletter several times a year. Trombonist, drummer, producer, bandleader and writer retired from music and now resides in Concord, North Carolina in 2006.