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Rodney Marsalis Big Brass Band

The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Band performed at the Graham Memorial Theatre Feb. 12—the final concert of the season sponsored by the Graham Concert Association.

Rodney Marsalis is the cousin of Wynton Marsalis, the internationally acclaimed jazz trumpeter who was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Wynton is Rodney’s cousin and the first person who taught him music, which began when Rodney was 11 years old, and Wynton was 17 years old.

Marsalis commented about Wynton’s teaching style in an interview with “The Morning Call.” [Wynton] was starting to show what he could do. He was like a taskmaster for me when I was at that age,” Marsalis said.

When hearing the Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass band perform, it is easy to see how Wynton’s stringent teaching style contributed to Marsalis’ flawless performances. “The lessons with Wynton were great. I didn’t know that he was giving me all the basics to start off right,” Marsalis told “The Morning Call.”

The Graham Memorial Auditorium was filled with a diverse selection of music comprising classical, gospel, rock and soul. The evening began with the traditional rendition of “Closer Walk” that jazz musicians often play for the jazz-style funerals that flood the streets of New Orleans with both mourners and those who rejoice in the home-going celebration. The evening ended with the traditional “New Orleans Second Line” March, which is always a crowd favorite.

Other songs the band performed included: J.S. Bach’s “Contrapunctus IX,” Harry James’ “Concerto,” Jimmy McHugh’s “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story [“Tonight,” “Maria,” “America”],John Philip Sousa’s “Washington Post March” and “Stars and Stripes Forever,” George Frideric Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” Tielman Susato’s “Renaissance Dances,” Waller and Custer’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Rafael Mendez’s “La Virgin de la Macarena” and an Earth, Wind and Fire medley.

The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass strives to be a reflection of the diverse makeup of men and women in the American culture and is dedicated to the notion that music is a gift to be enjoyed by everyone.

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