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New Orleans Jazz Legends Play Together for First Time at Loyola University

Loyola press release - October 11, 2016

Piano masters Ellis Marsalis and David Torkanowsky will join forces for a grand performance in Loyola’s Jazz Underground series.

(New Orleans-Oct. 11, 2016) Historic harmonies will be made this month at Loyola University New Orleans, as piano masters Ellis Marsalis and David Torkanowsky perform together publicly for the first time.

“Two generations of legends that not only inspired each other, but have paved a path for future musicians are coming together for the first time to make history,” said renowned saxophonist and professor Tony Dagradi. “It has been an honor to work with these two artists, and I believe our audience will be thrilled to experience this rare premiere.”

Marsalis, a Loyola alumnus, and Torkanowsky will preform Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. as a part of Loyola’s Jazz Underground Series, organized by Dagradi. The series features an exciting line-up of artists who will perform Loyola’s state-of-the-art Nunemaker Auditorium throughout the 2016-2017 season. Previous shows included “Celebrating Coltrane,” where Dagradi led an all-star group of New Orleans artists in their annual tribute to John Coltrane.

New Orleans legend and nationally acclaimed musician Ellis Marsalis was born in New Orleans in 1934. His formal musical training began when he was 11 at the Xavier University Junior School of Music. He went on to enroll at Dillard University, where he was a clarinet major and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education.

Marsalis later joined the U.S. Marine Corps, where he focused on his skills as a pianist as a member of the “Corps Four,” a Marines jazz quartet that performed on both radio and television shows to help find new recruits. Marsalis joined the Loyola University New Orleans family as he continued his educational pursuits and attained his master’s degree from the Loyola School of Music in 1986.

Having taught everywhere from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana to Virginia Commonwealth University, in 1989 Marsalis returned to New Orleans and became the first director of the Coca Cola endowed Chair of Jazz Studies at the University of New Orleans. After retiring from UNO in 2001, Marsalis career continued to flourish receiving Honorary Degrees from Loyola University New Orleans, Tulane University, and the Juilliard School in New York. In 2011, Marsalis received the highest honor in Jazz, the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.

In his retirement, Marsalis has appeared nationally on NBC’s Today Show, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, ABC’s Good Morning America, and various local and regional television shows. Today, Marsalis remains an active performer of Jazz and is currently releasing recordings on his own record label, ELM Records.

Marsalis’ skills as both a musician and an educator have inspired many musicians, including Loyola’s 2016 commencement speaker Harry Connick, Jr. and acclaimed pianist David Torkanowsky, with whom he will perform at Loyola.

A former student of Marsalis, professional musican David Torkanowsky was exposed to the arts at a young age by his father, who served as music director chief conductor of the New Orleans Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, and mother who was a flamenco dancer. Torkanowsky started playing piano at the young age of 3 and from there he was schooled by some of the best New Orleans musicians, including Ellis Marsalis. In fact, Torkanowsky’s mother took him to hear Marsalis play and further fueled his passion for music. Now, Torkanowsky has collaborated with other New Orleans legends like Allen Toussaint, Danny Barker, and Loyola’s own Tony Dagradi.

Performances for this year’s Jazz Underground Series will be presented Thursday evenings in the newly refurbished Nunemaker Auditorium, Third Floor, Monroe Hall, Loyola University New Orleans, 6363 St. Charles Ave. All concerts will run from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Admission is $15 at the door, $5 with student ID, Loyola students get in free. Tickets may be purchased on etix here, emailing tickets@loyno.edu, at the door, or by calling the Loyola Box Office at (504) 865-2074. Free parking will be located in the West Road Garage.