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ELLIS: The Life and Complicated Times of Pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr.

February 29 @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Celebrate the life and legacy of Ellis Marsalis Jr.

ELLISThe Life and Complicated Times of Pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr.
a film by Sascha Just

Join us for an intimate Q&A discussion with Director Sascha Just and musician Herlin Riley immediately following the film, moderated by archivist Malik Bartholomew. 



Told in his own words and music, ELLIS is an intimate film about the life and complicated times of New Orleans jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr., patriarch of the “First Family of Jazz,” who turned teaching music into a Civil Rights Act, mentored a generation of top musicians and, drawing from his hometown of New Orleans, changed modern jazz.  (view trailer here



Film Synopsis

“ELLIS” is the first feature-length documentary about Ellis Marsalis Jr. and the Marsalis Music Family.


The film chronicles the life of this exceptional composer, performer, and educator, the profound influence that the city had on him — and that he had on the jazz that came out of New Orleans. It is also a story of how one man transcended racial injustices he faced from his birth during US Segregation to his death from COVID-19.

Made with the full cooperation of Ellis and his family, “ELLIS” is told in the words and music of Ellis Marsalis Jr. 

Live concerts (i.e Jazz at Lincoln Center), including a solo concert at the Marsalis Center for Music performed exclusively for the film, are interlaced with verité scenes that place Ellis in his city, plus interviews with colleagues and his sons Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo, Ellis III, and Jason. Archival footage and photos take us back to New Orleans of the early twentieth century, to California of the 1950s where Ellis served in the US Marines corps and played with modernist giant Ornette Coleman, to New York of the 1970s where he toured, and to his classrooms throughout the years.

The result is more than a biography of one of jazz’s heroes. The film interweaves Ellis’ accomplishments with key threads of American cultural history, placing him in historical context as someone who was both deeply affected by the world around him, and who, by responding to it, helped to shape that world.

Directed by Sascha Just 



February 29
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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