Jazz Master Ellis Marsalis
Ashlin has been playing with the Ellis Marsalis Quintet, led by pianist and Jazz Master, Ellis Marsalis, in a variety of settings since 2014, ranging from weekly gigs at the famous club in New Orleans - Snug Harbor, to jazz festivals in New Orleans and Bermuda, to Marshall University, and to Dizzy’s in New York City.
At Dizzy’s in Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Ellis Marsalis Quintet played four evenings in November 2016. A surprised reviewer, expecting a performance on the “staid size of the jazz street,” described the ensemble as “a quite energetic machine” with “extremely capable musicians.” His full review may be read here in the Columbia Tribune.
At the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Ashlin has performed with the Ellis Marsalis Quintet to enthusiastic standing-room-only crowds. The performances were recorded live and are available for purchase, along with other years of Ellis Marsalis's performances, at the Munck Music website. For specific years of the Quintet's recordings, click on the following dates: 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018.
At the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts in January 2015, a reviewer called the performance a “Masterclass in Jazz” and noted the “superb high legato of Parker’s trumpet” in one number and a “brilliant vibrato solo by Parker” on another tune.
One reviewer of the group’s performance at French Quarter Fest in April 2015 hailed it as a “funky outdoor party.” Applauding the energetic approach taken by the master and his musicians, the reviewer had this to say about the individual musicians: “Bassist Jason Stewart and drummer Jason Marsalis acted as a musical trampoline, vaulting saxophonist Derek Douget and trumpeter Ashlin Parker to the heights. Some of the finest frontline playing came when the two horns locked in counterpoint duets -- a modernist bow to the group improvisations and heated emotions of early New Orleans jazz.”
Another reviewer echoed the excitement about the French Quarter Fest performance, writing that “… the 80-year old Ellis Marsalis evaded the rain, drawing a packed crowd to Jackson Square, with a quintet performance that needed no defending on grounds of age. With drummer son Jason Marsalis always propulsive and uplifting and a soaring front-line of Ashlin Parker, trumpet, and Derek Douget, tenor and soprano, theirs was music with real bite and zest. Parker and Douget are both educators in the city and were new names to me but not to Ellis, for both had studied with him. “They keep me young,” he told me.”
In 2017, the Ellis Marsalis Quintet recorded an album of original tunes, entitled The Ellis Marsalis Quintet Plays The Music of Ellis Marsalis. Reviews have been very positive, such as this one in Offbeat Magazine. Ashlin is featured on the track, Zee Blues, on this album.
In 2018, both Ellis and Ashlin were honored with Spirit of Satchmo Awards given by French Quarter Festivals, Inc. at the kick-off gala for the Satchmo SummerFest dedicated to Louis Armstrong. Ellis won the award for educational contributions to New Orleans, while Ashlin received the award for musical contributions. Ellis and Ashlin were featured that same year in a commercial for the festival.
In 2019, Ellis and Ashlin were called back to the Satchmo Summerfest gala to play as a duet throughout the evening. Victoria Munt Rogers shared this beautiful photo:
At the 2019 Satchmo SummerFest itself, the Ellis Marsalis Quintet played to a most appreciative audience, as can be heard after this solo on Song for my Father.