He visits the Second Cup Café today to play music from his new album, "From the Plantation to the Penitentiary."
In 1997, Marsalis became the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize in music, for "Blood on the Fields," an epic oratorio on the subject of slavery. His TV series "Marsalis on Music" won a Peabody award, and he's also earned nine Grammy awards.
Marsalis was born in 1961 in New Orleans into a musical family. He received his first trumpet at age six as a Christmas present from legendary trumpeter Al Hirt. Marsalis' father Ellis was a pianist in Hirt's band.
At age twelve, Marsalis joined a funk band and began performing on the weekends. He went on to perform in local marching bands, jazz bands, and classical orchestras.
After graduting high school, he moved to New York to attend the prestigious Julliard School of Music.
The following year, Marsalis joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and signed to Columbia Records. In 1982 he released his self-titled debut album.
Over the last 25 years, Marsalis has sold more than seven million copies of his recordings worldwide.
Marsalis is also the co-founder and musical director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center program. In addition to hosting numerous concerts and events, the program offers the educational Jazz for Young People series. Marsalis also teaches master classes in local schools.
In 1994, Marsalis released "Sweet Swing Blues on the Road," a book about his touring life.
Marsalis has earned honorary doctorate degrees from numerous universities including Yale, Columbia and Princeton.
"From the Plantation to the Penitentiary" is a politically-charged quintet album of all new compositions by Marsalis. It features a rare spoken word vocal performance by Marsalis titled "Where Y'All At."
"There is a lot of talk about what should be done to fix America, and a lot of ideas, but really, what are any of us actually doing?" Marsalis writes in the liner notes for the album. "I'm talking about us. Me included. We're just sitting by waiting for somebody else to clean our house. They're not coming. Where are we at? "