Jason Marsalis with "A" Band and NiteCap at Capilano University's NSCU Centre for the Performing Arts, tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets $32/$29.
GROWING up in New Orleans, drummer and vibraphonist Jason Marsalis was surrounded by jazz music.
"I just loved music, it was something that I was into as a little kid," Marsalis says.
By the time he was six years old he had his own drum set and was taking drum lessons from drummer James Black.
"It's something that I wanted to do," he says. Tonight, Marsalis will be playing vibraphone with Capilano University students in concert at the NSCU Centre for the Performing Arts.
"The vibraphone is such a hard instrument to play," he says. "I hope everybody enjoys the show at Capilano."
Marsalis comes from a family of extraordinarily talented musicians. His older brothers Branford, Wynton and Delfeayo are all accomplished and award-winning jazz musicians. His father Ellis Jr. is also a highly respected musician who still performs at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro in New Orleans.
Despite coming from such an accomplished family Marsalis says growing up he didn't feel any pressure to succeed as a musician.
"The reason being music is something I love to do. Nobody's expectations are higher than mine," he says. "Usually pressure comes from people who feel that they have to do something their family does but they don't really believe in it or if they have to live up to a certain level of success and that's usually when pressure comes in."
Being the youngest in the Marsalis family Jason became closest to his brother Delfeayo. He says his musical relationship, with Branford and Wynton was more casual because they were older and had already left home.
"He (Delfeayo) was actually in New Orleans and I got to play with him a lot," he says. "I worked a lot with my father."
Marsalis attended Loyola University in New Orleans and studied classical music. He performed with the school's concert band and orchestra and also played in his father's trio and with the Casa Samba.
"I was just refining my skills there," he says.
Marsalis has released three albums, Year of the Drummer (1998), Music in Motion (2000) and Music Update (2009). He is planning to release his fourth album later this fall.
"All of the music has been recorded and now I am just working on the editing and mixing," he says. "It will be an expansion of the last record that I did. I cannot wait until people can hear it."
He says the reason for a big gap between his recordings is because he wanted to take time off to develop as an artist.
Marsalis has his own vibe quartet, which includes drummer David Potter, pianist Austin Johnson and bassist William Globe. They are all interested in exploring a wide range of styles and enjoys playing with them.
"It's been great, the guys in my group believe in music," he says. "The only real challenge is how do we get better as group - they are very supportive musically and that's why I like playing with them."
Besides his passion for music, Marsalis used to collect baseball cards and cheered for the New York Mets. When he was living with his parents in Virginia he began following the Atlanta Braves.
"For three years we lived in Richmond, Virginia and I used to listen to the Triple A Richmond Braves baseball team on the radio," he says. "Shortly after that I actually became a fan of the Atlanta Braves because of those guys who were on the Richmond Braves team. One guy in particular was a pitcher named Tom Glavine . . . the following year they had another pitcher named John Smoltz."
As a kid, Marsalis admired musicians such as Clifford Brown and Elvin Jones.
"I just liked their music and I just wanted to emulate what they were doing and develop my own sound from listening to them," he says.
Marsalis says he also really looked up to his older brothers music and became very passionate about it.
"It was really more about their music than their careers," he says. "I just loved their music. It wasn't that I wanted to have a career just like them."