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Marsalis, Wynton 1961–

Wynton Marsalis 1961

Jazz musician

A Serious Artist

What is Jazz?

A Jazz Master

Ties With The Past

A New Direction

The Music Teacher

The Pulitzer Prize

Selected discography

Sources

Wynton Marsalis, virtuoso trumpeter and bandleader, was born October 18, 1961 into a musical New Orleans family. Wyntons father Ellis, a prominent pianist and teacher, was of considerable influence on Wynton and his brothers Branford and Delfeao, also musicians. Brother Bran-ford has led the orchestra on Jay Lenos Tonight Show, while Wyntons father has come to recent public attention with the release of new albums and a solo recording. Interestingly enough, Wynton, the master musician of the family, does not believe there is competition in music in the family. He recalls that he initially did not want to play a trumpet, but there was always one around his home while growing up and, at the age of 12, he listened to a record called Giant Steps and began playing the trumpet.

By 1975, Wynton was a trumpet soloist with the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra; he won an award at the prestigious Berkshire Music Center for his classical musical abilities at age 17; and was a recitalist for the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts from 1976-78. Wynton studied with John Longo and was a student at the New Orleans Center for Performing Arts, the Berkshire Music Center, and the Julliard School of Music from 1979-81. Wynton joined with Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers from 1980-81 and was part of Herbie Hancocks V.S.O.P. quartet, touring and recording in Japan and the United States. Wynton formed his own group which released their first LP in 1981, touring extensively afterward. Wynton then made a classical album and, in 1984, became the first instrumentalist to win simultaneous Grammy awards as the best jazz and classical soloist, with many awards and Grammys to follow. Since 1987, Wynton Marsalis has devoted a good deal of his time as artistic director of jazz programs at the Lincoln Center in New York. He has two sons by Candace StanleyWynton, Jr. now 9 and Simeon, age 7, both of whom reside with Candace Stanley. On December 26, 1995, another son, Jasper Armstrong Marsalis, was born to Wynton and television actress Victoria Rowell.

A Serious Artist

Marsalis has received extensive media coverage as a serious musician who has helped bring jazz back into prominence. Among his many accomplishments Marsalis

At a Glance

Born October 18,1961 into a musical New Orleans family. Wyntons father, Ellis, is a prominent pianist and teacher and Wyntons brothers Branford and Delfeao are also musicians. Three sons: two with Candace StanleyWynton, age 9 and Simeon, age 7; third son with actress Victoria RowellJasper Armstrong born December 26, 1995.

Career: At age 17 won an award at Berkshire Music Center; joined Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers 1980. Studied with John Longo; student at the New Orleans Center for Performing Arts, the Berkshire Music Center, and the Julliard School of Music 1979-81. Trumpet soloistwith New OrleansPhilharmonicOrchestra1975. Toured with Herbie Hancocks V.S.O.P. quartet; formed own group by 1981. Numerous albums released primarily by Columbia as noted in Discography section of text. Compositions for films and ballet. Co-founder and Artistic Director of Jazz-Lincoln Center Jazz Ensemble. Sweet Swing Blues on the Road, a collection of essays about the jazz life, published 1994.

Honors and awards: Named Jazz Musician of the Year Downbeat readers poll 1982, 1984, and 1985; best trumpet player Downbeat critics poll 1984; Acoustic Jazz Group of the Year Award 1984; Eight-time Grammy Award winner including solo Jazz instrumental 1984, 1986; classical soloist with orchestra 1984; best trumpet player 1985; and group award 1986. in July of 1988, received four honorary doctorate degrees as follows: Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from Manhattan College of Music in New York and Princeton; Doctor of Music degree from Yale University; and Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Hunter College in New York. Winner of Pulitzer Prize for music for epic jazz opera, Blood on the Fields, 1997; NY State Council on the Arts, coun-cilmember, five-year term, 1997-.

Addresses: HomeManhattan, NY.

has composed music for films and ballet, along with co-founding the Lincoln Center Jazz Ensemble. A gifted trumpeter and expert classical musician, Wynton Marsalis rejects fusion jazz with its electronics and rock, along with the practice of free jazz; but rather, continues with the tradition of jazz inspired by Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Marsalis, persisting in this vein during the first half of the 1990s, set the pace for musicians such as trumpeter Terence Blanchard, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, and his older brother Branford, who plays tenor and soprano saxophones. Wyntons popular septet disbanded in 1994, the same year that he published Sweet Swing Blues on the Road, a collection of essays about the jazz life.

Not content with simply playing jazz, Marsalis also teaches music and has instructed through an educational outreach program, Project Discovery, as well as at the New England Conservatory of Music. The resurgence of traditional jazz at the hands of musicians like Wynton led to the first-ever all-jazz music cable channel, BET Jazz, in 1996. While certain older musicians are concerned about the reluctance among younger musicians to challenge the musical status quo versus interest in traditional forms, the resurgence has contributed to their own revitalized careers.

What is Jazz?

In an article written by Wynton entitled What Jazz Is and Isnt, published by The New York Times, Wynton states that jazz, has such universal appeal and application to the expression of modern life that it has changed the conventions of American music as well as those of the world at large. Marsalis feels, however, that the categorizing of certain popular music as jazz has resulted in misconceptions about what jazz is, with many of todays musicians also possessing misconceptions. Marsalis believes that the purist ethic of jazz is being lost, while at the same time, companies continue to exploit and capitalize upon the esthetic reputation of jazz. In Wyntons view, the greatness of jazz stems from its emotion as well as its deliberate artifice, and he emphasizes that the music of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington is not merely the result of simple music forged by adverse social conditions. According to Marsalis, Genius always manifests itself through attention to fine detail. Works of great genius sound so natural they appear simple, but this is the simplicity of elimination, not the simplicity of ignorance.

A Jazz Master

In June of 1989 Marsalis continued to be acclaimed for his technical gifts, being referred to as the most complete trumpeter in any field of American music since Dizzy Gillespie. While Wyntons recordings have been technically brilliant, they lacked a sense of his own emotion. However, the release of The Majesty of the Blues (Columbia), seven years after Marsalis burst on the music scene, is a triumphant fulfillment of his potential, connecting his musical intelligence to passionate blues. This album has Marsalis single-mindedly exulting in lifes pleasures. In composition, the album reminds the listener of the late composer, Charles Mingus, as Marsalis integrates earthy blues and gospel with sophisticated harmonies reminiscent of Duke Ellington. To achieve fuller harmonies, Marsalis has expanded the quartet of his previous album Live At Blues Alley, (Columbia) to a sextet, utilizing up to a 10-piece band on his newest recording. Stanley Crouch, who has written the liner notes for all of Wyntons jazz albums, notes that certain selections on the new release are reminiscent of Louis Armstrong and Theolonious Monk.

A year and one-half later, in December of 1990, Marsalis continued to show his Ellington influence on the soundtrack for Jan Amiels film, Tune in Tomorrow Also during that year Marsalis won an award for his contributions to music education in the Washington area. During this typically busy month, the jazz master performed at Blues Alley, where his septet was joined by former pianist Marcus Roberts who left the band five years previous to pursue his own career. In between performing at Georgetowns Blues Alley, Marsalis spent time delivering positive messages and practical music instruction to Georgetowns youth during a visit to Suitland High School. There, Marsalis taught a master level class to 250 students in Suitlands magnet program for creative and performing arts. Marsalis lectured students on the value of hard work, discipline, and individuality. Students recalled that Marsalis encouraged them to develop as individuals as well as artists. Marsalis shared with students his own realization that all of art lends humanity to his music. He stresses the need for young students to refrain from substance abuse and stick with something for a long time in order to develop technique. A brilliant trumpet virtuoso, Wynton is personally committed to the highest musical standards in jazz, urging young musicians to acquaint themselves with the tradition of jazz, while avoiding a tendency to cross over into pop, fusion, or rock.

During March of 1991, Wyntons recording, Intimacy Calling: Standard Time Vol. II, which came on the heels of The Resolution of Romance: Standard Time Vol. Ill (Columbia) was released. Though Volume III is the most intimate of the two albums, Marsalis focused on melody versus technique for Volume II. This recording contains several alluring ballads, including one of Wyntons finest, a version of Jerome Kernens, Yesterdays. Less than six months later Wynton released a three-volume CD set entitled Soul Gestures in Southern Blue (Columbia) which compares with the 1989 The Majesty of the Blues because of its rootsy, New-Orleans style. The opening track on Vol. I of the set is Harriet Tubman, which evokes a journey on the underground railroad. The second volume, The Uptown Ruler, represents the sentiments and functions of the blues musician who is called upon to express the varied experience of humanity. Wyntons third volume, Levee Low Moan, is comprised of mostly dance songs with vibrant Afro-Cuban rhythms.

Ties With The Past

The close of the year again found Wynton performing at Blues Alley nightclub in Georgetown, where he recorded a live album and conducted workshops with the Blues Alley Youth Orchestra. Marsalis continued to show his loyalty to the club which gave him his first chance to play there in 1980 at age 20, when he was breaking upon the music scene. The performance found Wynton with his New Orleans rhythm section, bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Herlin Riley, alto saxophonist Wes Anderson, newly hired tenor saxophonist Herb Harris, and former pianist Marcus Roberts who had previously reunited with Marsalis at Blues Alley.

A prolific recorder, Wyntons recordings were backlogged in 1991 and 1992, with five live recordings awaiting release. Additionally, Marsalis awaited the release of his soundtracks for the Peanuts television show and the television series, Shannons Deal. Further, he had completed a classical record with Kathleen Battle performing short pieces by Scarlatti, Bach, and Handel and had finished recording most of a ballet called, Griot New York, which he wrote for Garth Fagan. Wyntons collaboration with Fagan dates back to when Wynton was 22-years-old and he received encouraging words from Fagan. According to The Washington Post Fagan told Wynton, I know its tough out there, but youve got to stay with it and address this music, because its important. Marsalis remains loyal to Fagan and many others whom he credits with supporting him in his early days.

By May of 1992, at the age of 30, Wynton Marsalis was the most celebrated jazz musician of his generation, whose ever-evolving style was well received, as evidenced by his release, Blue Interlude (Columbia). At that point in time, Marsalis performed more than 200 shows per year, and the travel and performing are wearing on him. In August of 1992, Marsalis lived in a Manhattan apartment on the 29th floor and was considered perhaps the greatest young living jazz musician. Marsalis toured during the fall of that year from Hershey, Pennsylvania to Palm Desert, California with The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, conducted by David Berger. The tour celebrated the legendary Duke Ellington, from whom Marsalis borrowed to create his own style; however, Marsalis performs from classical to Dixie.

A public television program aired February 7, 1992, entitled Great Performances, featuring Wynton with sopranist Kathleen Battle on the classical recording, Baroque Duet (Sony Classics). Marsalis stated in the opening credits of this show that the duet for voice and solo instrument may have been close to todays modern jazz, informing the audience that, The early jazz musicians, when they played trumpets and saxophones and stuff, they would try to sound like the singers then, when the instrumentalists get to a certain level of expression, then the vocalists imitate them.

Still performing with his septet in April of 1993, Marsalis and his band visited the Wolf Trap, where Marsalis views his bandmates as essential, trading phrases with them as equals. Toward the end of the year, Marsalis completed In This House, On This Morning, commissioned by New Yorks Lincoln Center, an hour-long jazz suite in 12 sections. One of the suites, Hopscotch America was the musical score for a Peter Martins ballet which premiered in New York City. Marsalis views working on lengthy pieces as fun because long pieces are harder to organize, like writing a novel versus a poem or a song. Longer pieces require a lengthy period of sustained concentration which Marsalis enjoys.

Regarding todays jazz music, Marsalis feels that the lack of long-term lineups in jazz results in an over-reliance on individual improvisation and easy formulas of unison theme, trumpet, sax solo, and piano solo. Marsalis would like to see a greater use of other forms such as group improvisation, call-and-response, arrangements that sound like improvisation, and other techniques. Wynton feels that todays jazz needs to be played comprehensively, seeing it as a process of adding forms and styles together, rather than taking away. Marsalis emphasizes that the sound of a band is at the heart of jazz, and the goal as one where musicians encourage each other to choose what theyll play and to play their best with a democratic sense of expression.

Throughout 1993 and 1994, the compositional strides in Wyntons music were evident and he continued to be accompanied by his septet, known for his dazzling technique and willingness to tackle both jazz and classical genres. However, Wynton is more of a consolidator of the musical heritage of jazz rather than a groundbreaker. In This House, On This Morning, a 1994 Columbia release, emulates musical and liturgical cadences of church service and Wynton further personalized his influence by Duke Ellington and former jazz masters. This recording contains themes of whispering and shouting, accompanied by a powerful solo voice. The recording also incorporates the sensuality so ingrained in African American worship. Wynton says that In This House, On This Morning is about a desire to know God. Lorraine Gordon, owner of the Village Vanguard, a New York jazz club where Marsalis has played since his early 20s, sees Marsalis playing music reflective of jazz history, with a vision of conveying to listeners the importance of looking back in order to move forward, to modernize the music, without losing its initial form and value. Marsalis stated in The Washington Post that, Its very seldom you hear a young musician who can play a melody through the harmonic form of a song. When you do you know thats someone who can play. Marsalis feels that a group sound is difficult to attain, and expresses his debt to his talented band members, all of whom come from the church, acknowledging their influence. Wynton believes that spiritual matters are fundamental, noting the fundamental amen cadence of the blues.

A New Direction

The close of 1994 ended with Wynton and his septet formally disbanding, as announced at the Village Vanguard. The group, together since 1989, was one of the most influential and active jazz bands. Wynton and his septet taught young musicians that there is a future in serious music. By 1994, however, at the age of 33, Wynton felt it was necessary to break up the band. Having been on the road together for 15 years, the band played three weeks each month, leaving only one week for Marsalis to attend to all of his other business, including helping to run Lincoln Centers jazz program, his teaching, and other obligations. With the bands break-up, Wynton planned to concentrate all of his energy on the Lincoln Center and to work with a big band. Marsalis also knows musicians in Brazil were interested in working with him.

Over the years, Wynton Marsalis has encouraged the careers of trumpeter Terence Blanchard, pianist Harry Connick, Jr., and others. Wynton has visited more than 1,000 schools around the country in the past decade, preaching the virtues of jazz. As the artistic director for Jazz at the Lincoln Center in New York City, Wynton introduces programs which teach young people about jazz. Wyntons vision to educate others about music, particularly jazz, is a vision which includes educating young artists about the history of African Americans as well.

In addition to being musically inclined, Marsalis is possessed of a political bent as well, taking his work and the black cause very seriously. Wynton feels that Louis Armstrong took a noble stand regarding the school integration controversy of his day in Little Rock during 1954, considering Armstrong was a revolutionary for his time. Marsalis similarly yearns to be seen as a revolutionary of sorts, having disbanded his septet in order to compose, visit schools, and study the music of foreign cultures. Marsalis has an evangelical zeal toward jazz, scouting the countrys high school and college talent, looking for those with the talent and discipline to join him in his philosophy. Critic Stanley Crouch, Marsaliss intellectual mentor for 16 years, refers to the purity of Marsaliss triumph in restoring quality and discipline to jazz during a time in history when decadence and ineptness are often celebrated. Crouch sees Marsalis as a beacon in a mediocre society with low standards, though Marsalis has at times been criticized for practicing reverse racism at the Lincoln Center. Crouch feels that Marsalis is criticized because of a refusal to conform to mass media expectations for black artists. Marsalis expresses his own feelings to a Washington Post reporter, Jazz critics are more concerned with race than with music Beethoven was Beethoven. He wasnt the German. Whereas with jazz, you talk right away about the musicians neighborhood and his attitude toward race. Well, thats not going to go anywhere. We are tied to each other and we have to try to deal with each other. Believe me, the Caucasian and the American Negro are forever wed.

While Marsalis feels that jazz is far from dead, he acknowledges that it has reached a level of maturity where its basic forms are set, evolving more slowly. While he is considered more of a mainstream player, Marsalis does not seek to have jazz become pop music. Wyntons goal is to expose as many people as possible to jazz and he devotes many weeks each year to the youth in neglected neighborhoods, hoping that jazz will enrich and inspire them.

In early 1995 Wynton recorded an album on Columbia entitled Joes Cool Blues for the Charlie Brown television program. Wynton recalled that, as a boy, the only time he heard jazz on television was on the Charlie Brown show. Marsalis first became interested in making the recording when he learned that the music was composed by the late pianist Vince Guaraldi, whom Wyntons father knew. Indeed, Wynton shares the billing on this recording with his pianist father, Ellis and the music is warm and poignant, without being overly sentimental.

The Music Teacher

By the fall of 1995, Marsalis hosted Marsalis on Music, a four-part music appreciation program for young listeners which aired on public televison. The program, inspired by Leonard Bernsteins Young Peoples Concerts was a four-part series which tried to demystify classical and jazz music to an audience of 9-12-year-olds. Marsalis aimed to bring young people to a better understanding of these musical structures. His monologues took the same common sense approach to music which he learned from his own father. Marsalis has learned to temper his fierce devotion to music with humor. In the first part of the series, Why Toes Tap: Marsalis on Rhythm, Marsalis referred to rhythm as the most basic element of music and life. In the second part, Listening for Clues: Marsalis on Form, Wynton explained such things as the sonata form, 32-barsong, 12-bar blues and call-and-response forms. The third part of the series, Sousa to Satchmo: Marsalis on the Jazz Band, charted the emergence of brass dominated ensembles. Finally, the final portion of the series, Tackling the Monster: Marsalis on Practice, had Marsalis and cellist, Yo-Yo Ma discussing discipline, dedication, methodologies, and music fundamentals. The series was filmed in Stockbridge, Massachusetts where Marsalis was a Tanglewood fellow in the summer of 1979. Marsalis feels that an understanding of classical music provides a grounding in American culture, while traditional jazz is about the mixing of worlds, black and white. In the four-part series, Wyntons Liberty Brass Band and the Tanglewood Music Center Student Orchestra joined together, with Wynton showing his adeptness on a custom weighted horn, drums, and piano, in addition to his trumpet. A companion book and CD of the series are available through W.W. Norton, and a home video version was released by Sony. Marsalis also hosted Making the Music, a 26-part jazz series on National Public Radio.

The Pulitzer Prize

In 1997, Wynton became the first jazz artist to win a Pulitzer Prize for music for his epic jazz opera, Blood on the Fields Wynton was grateful for the recognition of jazz music and feels that other jazz musicians equally deserved the Pulitzer, including Duke Ellington. An eight-time Grammy Award-winning trumpeter, Wynton feels that the value of jazz music is finally being recognized. In his recent opera, Blood on the Fields, Wynton conducts the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, portraying the achievement of freedom for an enslaved man and woman. Marsalis continues with his mission to expose others to jazz as an art form, while sensing an urgency to help people remember and understand slavery, so that they might grow and learn from it. Marsalis is more than a great musician, he is a teacher and historian as well.

Selected discography

The following albums, released by Columbia, except as noted:

Think of One, 1983.

Trumpet Concertos, 1983.

Hot House Flowers, 1984.

Black Codes (from the Underground), 1985.

The Majesty of the Blues, 1989.

Blue Interlude, 1992.

Intimacy Calling: Standard Time Vol. II and Vol. III, 1991.

Soul Gestures in Southern Blue, 3-vol. CD set, 1991.

Baroque Duet, with Kathleen Battle, Sony Classics, 1992.

In This House On This Morning, 1994.

Joe Cools Blues, 1995.

Sources

Books

African American Almanac, 7th edition, Gale Research, 1996.

Priestley, Brian, Jazz on Record, Billboard Books, 1991.

Periodicals

Jet, 1997, pp. 61-63.

The New York Times, August 1, 1994, p. C9; December 1, 1994, p. C15;

May 24, 1992, sec. 2, p. 20; July 31, 1988, sec., 2 p. 21; July 2, 1988, p. A13.

The Washington Post, Jun 18, 1989, p. G12; Jun 18, 1989, p. Gl; Dec 13,

1990, pp. CI, Bl 1; Dec 14,1990, p. WW 20; Mar 22, 1991; Aug 11,

1991, p. G5; Dec 12, 1991, Weekend, p. 13; Weekend, 17; Feb 27,

1992, p. B2; Aug 16,1992, Parade, p. 18; Apr 16, 1993, p. WW 13;

Apr 20, 1993, p. B3; Jun 22, 1994, p. D7; Oct 9, 1995, p. C9; Mar 19,

1995, p. G8.

Time, Dec 5, 1994, p. 59.

Marilyn Williams

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Marsalis, Wynton

Wynton Marsalis

Jazz musician

For the Record

Discovered Influences in Two Genres

Started Spreading the News

Warmed up Career

Big Sounds in the Big Apple

Evolved into Jazz Spokesman

Jazzed up Pulitzer Prize

Selected discography

Sources

Successful jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, Ameri cas top modern missionary purist of the genre, knows the essential elements that make music jazz. Influenced by the jazz artists from the early 1900s through the 1960s and annoyed with the music labeled jazz in the 1970s, Marsalis took on the mission of not only creating true jazz, but teaching its definition as well.

A successful jazz and classical musician and composer, Marsalis had won more than eight Grammy awards and released over 30 albums in both genres by the late 1990s. In 1997, he received the first Pulitzer Prize award ever for nonclassical music. He also co-founded and directed the ground-breaking jazz program at New Yorks Lincoln Center, and became an influential jazz educator for Americas youth.

Marsalis was born into a family of musicians on October 18, 1961, in New Orleans. His father, Ellis Marsalis, played piano and worked as a jazz improvisation instructor at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.

For the Record

Born October 18, 1961, in New Orleans, LA, to Ellis and Delores Marsalis. The second of six children, with musician brothers Branford and Delfeayo. Education: Attended Berkshire Music Center, 1978-79; Juil-liard School of Music, 1979-81.

Began playing trumpet seriously at the age of 12 and studied with John Longo; as a teenager, played with New Orleans Philharmonic, New Orleans Brass Quintet; moved to New York and played with Brooklyn Philharmonia, 1979; toured with Art Blakey, 1980; toured with V.S.O.P., 1981; signed record contract for jazz and classical with Columbia Records, 1981; co-founded Jazz at Lincoln Center program and became artistic director, 1987; produced Pulitzer Prize-winning Blood on the Fields, 1994; produced video series Marsalis on Music and NPR radio show Making the Music, 1995; received first nonclassical Pulitzer Prize award, 1997.

Addresses: Record company Columbia Records, 51 West 52nd St., New York, NY 10019. Office Lincoln Center, 140 West 65th St., New York, NY 10023.

Before dedicating her life to raising her six sons, De-lores Marsalis sang in jazz bands. The second eldest child, Wyntons older brother Branford set the stage as the familys first musical prodigy. Branford Marsalis played both clarinet and piano by the time he entered the second grade, and eventually became a professional saxophonist.

Wynton Marsalis didnt follow his brothers lead quite as diligently, however. When he was six years old, his father played with Al Hirt, who gave the young Marsalis one of his old trumpets. Wynton Marsalis made his performing debut at the tender age of seven when he played The Marine Hymn at the Xavier Junior School of Music.

Discovered Influences in Two Genres

When Marsalis was 12, his family moved from Kenner, Louisiana, to New Orleans. When he listened to a recording by jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown, he was moved to take his trumpet seriously. I didnt know someone could play a trumpet like that, Marsalis later told Mitchell Seidel in Down Beat. It was unbelievable.

Soon after, a college student gave Marsalis an album by classical trumpet player Maurice André, which also sparked his interest in classical music. Marsalis began taking lessons from John Longo in New Orleans, who had an interest in both genres, as well. I hardly ever even paid him, Marsalis recalled to Howard Mandell in Down Beat, and he used to give me two and three-hour lessons, never looking at the clock.

Marsalis attended Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, where he graduated with a 3.98 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. He became a National Merit Scholarship finalist and received scholarship offers from Yale University, among other prestigious schools. He also attended the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. At the age of 14, he won a Louisiana youth competition. This award granted him the opportunity to perform with the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra as a featured soloist.

During his high school years, he played a variety of music with a number of groups, including first trumpet with the New Orleans Civic Orchestra, the New Orleans Brass Quintet, an a teenage funk group called the Creators, along with his brother Branford. In 1977, Marsalis won the Most Outstanding Musician Award at the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina.

Started Spreading the News

He went on to study music at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood in Massachusetts, where he received their Harvey Shapiro Award for the outstanding brass player. He turned down the scholarship offers from Ivy League schools to attend New Yorks Juilliard School of Music on full scholarship. While in school, he played with the Brooklyn Philharmonia and the Mexico City Symphony. He supported himself with a position in the pit band for Sweeney Todd on Broadway.

In 1980, Art Blakey asked Marsalis to spend the summer touring with his Jazz Messengers. His performances began to attract national attention, and he eventually became the bands musical director. While on the road with Blakey, Marsalis decided to change his image and began wearing suits to his performances. For us, it was a statement of seriousness, Marsalis told Howard Reich in Down Beat. We come out here, we try to entertain our audience and play, and we want to look good so they can feel good.

The following year, Marsalis decided to leave Juilliard to continue his education on the road. He played with Blakey and received an offer to tour with Herbie Hancocks V.S.O.P. quartet. Marsalis jumped at the chance, as the V.S.O.P. included bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, who had both played with Miles Davis. I knew he was only 19, just on the sceneits a lot to put on somebody, Hancock told Steve Bloom in Rolling Stone. But then I realized if we dont hand down some of this stuff that happened with Miles, itll just die when we die.

Warmed up Career

Marsalis performed throughout the United States and Japan with the V.S.O.P. and played on the double album Quartet. The increased attention led to an unprecedented recording contract with Columbia Records for both jazz and classical music. He released his self-titled debut album as a leader in 1981. Later that year, he formed his own jazz band with his brother Branford, Kenny Kirkland, Jeff Watts, and bassists Phil Bowler and Ray Drummond. His success didnt go unnoticed in his hometown, either. New Orleans Mayor Ernest Morial proclaimed a Wynton Marsalis Day in February of 1982.

Wynton Marsalis recorded one side of an album with his father Ellis and Branford Marsalis, called For Fathers and Sons. The other side was recorded by saxophonist Chico Freeman and his father Von Freeman. In 1983, Marsalis released jazz and classical LPS simultaneously. The jazz record, Think of One, marked the debut of his jazz quintet and sold nearly 200,000 copies, about ten times what was considered a successful jazz album. The recording and Marsalis received many comparisons to Miles Davis and other musicians of the 1960s. We dont reclaim music from the 60s; music is a continuous thing, Marsalis explained to Mandell in Down Beat Were justtrying to play what we hear as the logical extension. A trees got to have roots.

He recorded his classical debut, Trumpet Concertos, in London with Raymond Leppard and the National Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1984, Marsalis set another precedent by becoming the first artist to be nominated or win two Grammy awards in two categories during the same year.

Big Sounds in the Big Apple

He won another Grammy award in 1987 for his album Marsalis Standard Time Vol. 1. During the same year, he co-founded the Jazz at Lincoln Center program in New York City. When the program began, Marsalis became the artistic director for the eleven-month season. As part of his contract, he had to compose one piece of music for each year. Despite his new position, he continued to record and tour in both jazz and classical music.

He released Majesty of the Blues in 1989 and The Resolution of Romance in 1990. He dedicated the latter to his mother, and it included contributions from his father Ellis and his brother Delfeayo. If you are really dealing with music, you are trying to elevate consciousness about romance, Marsalis explained to Dave Helland in Down Beat. Music is so closely tied up with sex and sensuality that when you are dealing with music, you are trying to enter the world of that experience, trying to address the richness of the interaction between a man and a woman, not its lowest reduction.

Marsalis study of New Orleans styles resulted in a trilogy called Soul Gestures in Southern Blue in 1990. Describing the set, Howard Reich wrote in Down Beat, the crying blue notes of Levee Low Moan, the church harmonies of Psalm 26, the sultry ambiance of Thick in the South all recalled different settings and epochs in New Orleans music. And yet the tautness of Marsalis septet, the economy of the motifs, and the adventurous-ness of the harmonies proclaimed this as new music, as well.

Using history to create his present sound became Marsalis goal, along with exploring the rich tapestry of the different eras and styles of jazz. His first commission for the jazz program at Lincoln Center, In This House, On This Morning was performed in 1993. In it, he used the music of the African-American church as his primary inspiration.

Evolved into Jazz Spokesman

In the fall of 1994, Marsalis announced that his septet had disbanded. However, he continued composing, recording, and performing. The following year, he produced a four-part video series called Marsalis on Music, which aired on PBS. In May of 1995, his first string quartet, (At the) Octoroon Balls debuted at the Lincoln Center.

He continued to release classical works as well. He rerecorded the Haydn, Hummel, and Leopold Mozart concertos from Trumpet Concertos in 1994. Two years later, he released In Gabriels Garden, which he recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra and Anthony Newman on harpsichord and organ.

I want to keep developing myself as a complete musician, Marsalis told Ken Smith in Stereo Review, so I take on projects either to teach me something new or else to document some development. With this new Baroque album, I felt that Id never really played that music before with the right authority or rhythmic fire. Marsalis produced the Olympic Jazz Summit at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and won 1996 Peabody Awards for both Marsalis on Music and for his National Public Radio Show Wynton Marsalis: Making the Music. At the end of 1996, Time magazine named him one of Americas 25 Most Influential People.

A major part of his influence went out to the countrys youth. When hes not working on his own music, he traveled to schools across the country to talk about music in an effort to continue the tradition of jazz. Im always ready to put my own neck on the line for change, Marsalis told Lynn Norment in Ebony. No school is too bad for me to go to. Ill try to teach anybody. We are all striving for the same thing, to make our community stronger and richer. Thats what the jazz musician has always been about.

Jazzed up Pulitzer Prize

In April of 1994, his biggest piece, Blood on the Fields, had its debut performance at the Lincoln Center. Marsa-lis composed the oratorio for three singers and a 14-piece orchestra, and it described the story of two Africans, Leona and Jesse, who found love despite the difficulties of American slavery. I wanted to orchestrate for the larger ensemble and write for voicessomething Id never done, Marsalis said to V.R. Peterson in People. I wanted to make the music combine with the words, yet make the characters seem real.

With Blood on the Fields, Marsalis won the first nonclas-sical Pulitzer Prize award in history. Because of his piece, the selection board changed the criteria from for larger forms including chamber, orchestra, song, dance, or other forms of musical theater to for distinguished musical composition of significant dimension. Columbia Records released the oratorio on a three-CD set in June of 1997.

He followed the release with recordings of two other previously performed works on one album. His collaboration with New York City Ballet Director Peter Martins Jazz/Six Syncopated Movements and Jump Start written for ballet director Twyla Tharp were both included on the record. Marsaliss work in jazz and classical music combined with his often outspoken attitude toward musical integrity surrounded him with controversy throughout his career. Despite the criticism, his talent was never questioned. As Eric Alterman described in The Nation, hes a man universally acknowledged to be a master musician and perhaps the most ambitious composer alive.

Selected discography

Solo Albums

Wynton Marsalis, Columbia Records, 1982.

Think of One, Columbia Records, 1983.

Haydn/Hummel/L. Mozart Trumpet Concertos, CBS Master-works, 1983.

Hot House Flowers, Columbia Records, 1984.

Handel, Purcell, Torelli, Fasch, Molter, CBS Masterworks, 1984.

Black Codes, Columbia Records, 1985.

J Mood, Columbia Records, 1986.

Tomasi/Jolivet: Trumpet Concertos, CBS Masterworks, 1986.

Marsalis Standard Time, Vol. 1, Columbia Records, 1987.

Carnaval, CBS Masterworks, 1987.

Wynton Marsalis Quartet Live at Blues Alley, Columbia Records, 1988.

Baroque Music for Trumpets, CBS Masterworks, 1988.

Portrait of Wynton Marsalis, CBS Masterworks, 1988.

The Majesty of Blues, Columbia Records, 1989.

Standard Time Vol. 3, The Resolution of Romance, Columbia Records, 1990.

Tune in Tomorrow (soundtrack), Columbia Records, 1990.

Standard Time Vol. 2, Intimacy Calling, Columbia Records, 1991.

Soul Gestures in Southern Blue, Vol. 1-3, Columbia Records, 1991.

Blue Interlude, Columbia Records, 1992.

Citi Movement, Columbia Records, 1993.

On the Twentieth Century, CBS Masterworks, 1993.

In This House, On This Morning, Columbia Records, 1994.

The London Concert, CBS Masterworks, 1994.

Joe Cools Blues, Columbia Records, 1995.

In Gabriels Garden, CBS Masterworks, 1996.

Blood on the Fields, Columbia Records, 1997.

With others

(With V.S.O.P.) Quartet, Columbia Records, 1981.

(With Jazz Messengers) A La Mode, Concord, 1982.

The Young Lions (live recording of the Kool Jazz Festival), Elektra, 1982.

(with Ellis Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Chico Freeman, and Von Freeman) For Fathers and Sons, Columbia, 1982.

(With various artists) Crescent City Christmas Card, Columbia Records, 1989.

(With Yo Yo Ma, C-L. Lin) Three Favorite Concertos, CBS Masterworks, 1985.

(With Kathleen Battle) Baroque Duet, CBS Masterworks, 1992.

Sources

Down Beat, January 1982; July 1984; September 1990; December 1992; February 1994; May 1995.

Ebony, July 1994.

Life, August 1993.

Nation, May 12, 1997.

People, May 12, 1997.

Rolling Stone, November 8, 1984.

Stereo Review, July 1996.

Utne Reader, March-April, 1996.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from Sony Music press materials (www.music.sony.com), 1997.

Sonya Shelton

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Marsalis, Wynton

Wynton Marsalis

Trumpet player

For the Record

Classically Trained Jazz Musician

Technique Drew Criticism

Jazz a Metaphor for Democracy

Lauded by Critics

A Shepherd of the Music

Selected discography

Sources

Wynton Marsalis is potentially the greatest trumpet player of all time, proclaimed Maurice Andre, the famed classical trumpet virtuoso. Given Marsaliss technical prowessfrom astonishing scales to clean, quick-tongued repeated notes to gossamer phrasing to impeccable arpeggios, as Leslie Rubenstein described in Stagebill it is understandable why he has received such an accolade and why he is often hailed as the savior of modern jazz. But there are disbelievers, critics who consider him too conservative, technical, studied, elite. Marsaliss detractors think he lives up to the Rolling Stone title the hottest lips in America even when he is not blowing his horn. Passionatesome would say obstinateabout his desire to return jazz to its purest form, Marsalis is not afraid to preach his beliefs over the heads of legends. They are not amused. Rolling Stones Steve Bloom quoted the late Miles Davis: Sometimes people speak as though someone asked them a question. Well, nobody asked him a question. But Marsalis is purposeful, undaunted. He told Bloom: I love the music, above everything else. Thats all I answer to.

For the Record

Born October 18, 1961, in New Orleans, LA; son of Ellis (pianist and professor of music) and Dolores (former jazz singer and substitute teacher) Marsalis. Education: Courses in theory and harmony at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, 1976; Berkshire Music Center, Tanglewood, MA, Summer 1979; Juilliard School of Music, 1979-81.

Jazz and classical trumpet player. Trumpet soloist with the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra, 1975; played with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, 1979-80; played with Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers, 1980-81; toured with Herbie Hancocks V.S.O.P. Quartet, 1981; formed own group, 1981; artistic director for the annual Classical Jazz Festival at Lincoln Center, 1987; has performed and recorded with various orchestras.

Awards: Grammy Awards for best solo jazz instrumental, 1983, for Think of One, 1984, for Hot House Flowers, and 1985, for Black Codes; for best solo classical performance with orchestra, 1983, for Trumpet Concertos, and 1984, for Baroque Trumpet Music; for best jazz instrumental performance with a group, 1985, for Black Codes, 1986, for J Mood, and 1987, for Marsalis Standard Time, Vol. 1.

Addresses: Home New York City. Office c/o Agency for the Performing Arts, 9000 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069. Record company CBS Records, Inc., 51 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019.

Marsaliss impeccable background is well documented: Born in the jazz cradle of New Orleans, he received his first trumpet at age six from the great Dixieland trumpeter AI Hirt, in whose band Marsaliss father, Ellis, was the pianist. He did not begin playing in earnest, however, until he was twelve, when he heard a recording of jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown. Marsalis then began studies with John Longo, who exposed the young student to the classical repertoire of the instrument. At fourteen he was a featured soloist with the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra. At seventeen he was invited to a summer session at the famed Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, Massachusetts, which waived its normal eighteen-year-old age requirement. After graduation from high school (3.98 grade point average, National Merit Scholarship finalist), Marsalis accepted a scholarship to the elite Juilliard School of Music in New York City. In addition to full-time studies there, he played with various orchestras, including the Brooklyn Philharmonic. In 1980, during his summer vacation, Marsalis began touring with Art Blakey, the famous jazz drummer. After his second year at Juilliard he walked away to tour with jazz pianist Herbie Hancocks V.S.O.P. quartet. That same year Marsalis received a recording contract from Columbia Records to record both jazz and classical music, and subsequently formed his own jazz group. He was twenty years old.

Classically Trained Jazz Musician

From this prodigious beginning Marsalis has evolved into a musician who easily traverses the space between a blues lament and a baroque exaltation, between a small, smoky New York jazz club and Washingtons prestigious Lincoln Center. His movements between the two styles, however, are not with equal steps. He is classically trained, but considers himself foremost a jazz musician. Jane OHara pointed out in Macleans that Marsaliss classical training may have offered a temporary refuge from the black ghetto, but there is no question about the prodigal sons real musical home: I have studied Bartok and Stravinsky and I love them, but jazz is in the present tense. Marsalis further defined this idea to Howard Mandel of Down Beat: Jazz is the most precise art form of this century [because of] the time. What the musicians have figured out is how to conceive, construct, refine, and deliver ideas as they come up, and present them in a logical fashion. What youre doing is creating, editing, and all this as the music is going on. This is the first time this has ever happened in western art. Painting is painte d. Symphonies are writ ten. Beethoven improvised, but by himself, over a score. When five men get together to make up something, its a big difference. Early in his career, Marsalis said this to Peoples Barbara Rowes: Beethoven did things with rhythms that are really hip, but theres no way that can be compared with modern jazz. Five years later, in his discussion with Rubenstein, Marsalis offered a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between classical and jazz: What the two styles do share is a spirituality, and the ability to elevate the audience. Thats what music is, elevation and improvement. Just as Beethoven improved folk melodies, Charlie Parker improved ill Remember April.

Technique Drew Criticism

Such views and outspokenness have helped Marsalis delineate his raison detre, but they have also drawn the sharp pens of critics. Marsalis has always maintained that it is easier for a young musician to master classical music than jazz. Critics of his early jazz work agreed. In the New Yorker, Whitney Balliett remarked, Technique, rather than melodic logic, still governs his improvising, and the emotional content of his playing remains skittish. Down Beat, quoted by Bloom, opined, [Marsalis] seems to be detached from his prodigious maturity by not having experienced abandon. Musicians, like artists, must live if they are going to make significant contributions.

Since these quotes Marsalis has lived, and as Thomas Sancton noted in Time, even Marsalis admits that the shoot-from-the-lip style of his early years went too far at times: I was like 19 or something, manyou know, wild. I didnt care. He has since become, Sancton deemed, a less strident and more articulate advocate for the cause. Says pianist and composer Billy Taylor: Wynton is the most important young spokesman for the music today. His opinions are well founded. Some people earlier took umbrage at what he said, but the important thing is that he could back it up with his horn.

Jazz a Metaphor for Democracy

Marsaliss passionate advocacy for the proper understanding of and respect for jazz since his early years rests on the belief, as Sancton emphasized, that jazz is not just another style of popular music but a major American cultural achievement and a heritage that must not be lost. In the same article, Marsalis asserted that jazz is such a part of our heritage it is a metaphor for democracy: It shows you how the individual can negotiate the greatest amount of personal freedom and put it humbly at the service of a group conception.

Fortified by such a philosophical and spiritual belief, Marsalis strives to educate the next generation of possible jazz players on the contributions of past generations of jazz masters. Cognizant of his own lack of jazz education in his early yearscritic Stanley Crouch, quoted by Sancton, explained that the young Marsalis didnt know anything about Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington, or Thelonius Monk. His dad had tried to make him listen to Louis Armstrong, but he had this naive idea that Louis was an Uncle TomMarsalis now visits schools when touring to inform and perhaps reform the musical and cultural attitudes of aspiring musicians. In 1987, he helped launch a three-year jazz education program in the Chicago school system. But his commitment isnt fulfilled by singular visits to schools. Sancton noted that Marsalis stays in touch with many of the students he meets, offering them pointers over the phone, inviting them to sit in on his gigs and sometimes even giving them instruments.

Lauded by Critics

From this devotion to the cause have come recordings that show an increase in depth and maturity. Although, as mentioned, Marsaliss early work was faulted by critics for lacking emotion, later recordings were lauded (Marsalis has since won eight Grammy Awards and is the only person in history to have won back-to-back classical and jazz Grammys in two consecutive years). Fred Bouchard in Down Beat said 1986s J Mood offered an intimate revelling in sensuous sounds, the sense of quirky unpredictability in the original melodies and the solo lines (no cliches here), an unexpected quietude and austerity on many tracks. A Rolling Stone reviewer felt Marsalis Standard Time, Vol. 1 tugging at the beat with willful elasticity and venturing out with confident improvisations heightened by the clarity of his technique. And Michael Azerrad, writing for Rolling Stone, found Majesty of the Blues to be an artistic quantum leap forward. If whorehouses still played jazz in the front room, he wrote, this is what it would sound like.

The technical virtuosity evident on these recordings is brought to the fore on Marsaliss classical ventures. Balliett labeled the Haydn/Hummel/Mozart Concertos a beautiful record, full of the silver and bells and sunlight of perfectly played brass, while Bouchard noted that Marsalis has a natural flair for the witty exuberance, jazzy metrics, and peripatetic lines of the concertos on the Jolivet/Tomasi recording.

A Shepherd of the Music

The recordings, the educational programs, the concerts, and the interviews have all shown parts of the intellectual and artistic Wynton Marsalis. From these sources critics have gleaned their definitions. On Marsaliss uniqueness, James Haskins noted in his book Black Music in America: A History Through Its People that because of his versatility, Wynton Marsalis brought a highly technical sense to his jazz playing and a vividness and immediacy to his classical playing that no one else had ever been able to do. But Sancton observed that Marsaliss effect seems to extend beyond any individual ability or achievement: It is the fact that, largely under his influence, a jazz renaissance is flowering on what was once barren soil. Perhaps, however, the simplest understanding of Marsaliss effect, his message, and his ability belongs to a member of his group, saxophonist Wes Anderson. Sancton quoted him: Wynton is someone who can guide us. Hes one of the shepherds of this music.

Selected discography

Fathers and Sons, Columbia, 1982.

Wynton Marsalis, Columbia, 1982.

Think of One, Columbia, 1983.

Wynton Marsalis: Haydn/Hummel/Mozart Trumpet Concertos, CBS Masterworks, 1983.

Hot House Flowers, Columbia, 1984.

Wynton Marsalis/Edita Gruberova: Baroque Trumpet Music, CBS Masterworks, 1984.

Black Codes (From the Underground), Columbia, 1985.

J Mood, Columbia, 1986.

Jolivet/Tomasi: Trumpet Concertos, CBS Masterworks, 1986.

Carnaval, Columbia, 1986.

Marsalis Standard Time, Vol. 1, Columbia, 1987.

Live at the Blues Alley, Columbia, 1988.

Wynton Marsalis: Baroque Music for Trumpets, CBS Masterworks, 1988.

A Portrait of Wynton Marsalis, CBS Masterworks, 1988.

Majesty of the Blues, Columbia, 1989.

A Crescent City Christmas Card, Columbia, 1989.

The Resolution of Romance, Columbia, 1990.

Sources

Books

Haskins, James, Black Music in America: A History Through Its People, Crowell, 1987.

Periodicals

Atlantic, April 1988.

Down Beat, July 1984; December 1986; January 1987; November 1987; January 1988; October 1988.

Macleans, March 26, 1984.

New Yorker, June 20, 1983.

People, February 20, 1984; November 24, 1986; September 18, 1989.

Rolling Stone, November 8, 1984; December 17, 1987; July 13, 1989.

Stagebill, Fall 1989.

Time, November 7, 1983; October 22, 1990.

Rob Nagel

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Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis

Successful jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis (born 1961) is America's top modern purist of the genre. Influenced by the jazz artists from the early 1900s through the 1960s and annoyed with the music labeled "jazz" in the 1970s, Marsalis took on the mission of not only creating "true" jazz, but teaching its definition as well.

Asuccessful jazz and classical musician and composer, Marsalis had won more than eight Grammy awards and released over 30 albums in both genres by the late 1990s. In 1997, he received the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded for nonclassical music. He also co-founded and directed the ground-breaking jazz program at New York's Lincoln Center, and became an influential jazz educator for America's youth.

Marsalis was born into a family of musicians on October 18, 1961, in New Orleans. His father, Ellis Marsalis, played piano and worked as a jazz improvisation instructor at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. Before dedicating her life to raising her six sons, Dolores Marsalis sang in jazz bands. The second eldest child, Wynton's older brother Branford set the stage as the family's first musical prodigy. Branford Marsalis played both clarinet and piano by the time he entered the second grade, and eventually became a professional saxophonist.

Wynton Marsalis didn't follow his brother's lead quite as diligently, however. When he was six years old, his father played with Al Hirt, who gave the young Marsalis one of his old trumpets. Wynton Marsalis made his performing debut at the tender age of seven when he played "The Marine Hymn" at the Xavier Junior School of Music. As a child, Marsalis didn't take practicing the trumpet very seriously. He spent more time with his school work, playing basketball, and participating in Boy Scout activities.

Discovered Influences in Two Genres

When Marsalis was 12, his family moved from Kenner, Louisiana, to New Orleans. When he listened to a recording by jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown, he was moved to take his trumpet seriously. "I didn't know someone could play a trumpet like that," Marsalis later told Mitchell Seidel in Down Beat. "It was unbelievable." Soon after, a college student gave Marsalis an album by classical trumpet player Maurice Andre, which also sparked his interest in classical music.

Marsalis began taking lessons from John Longo in New Orleans, who had an interest in both genres, as well. "I hardly ever even paid him," Marsalis recalled to Howard Mandell in Down Beat, "and he used to give me two-and three-hour lessons, never looking at the clock."

Marsalis attended Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, where he graduated with a 3.98 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. He became a National Merit Scholarship finalist and received scholarship offers from Yale University, among other prestigious schools. He also attended the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. At the age of 14, he won a Louisiana youth competition. This award granted him the opportunity to perform with the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra as a featured soloist.

During his high school years, he played a variety of music with a number of groups, including first trumpet with the New Orleans Civic Orchestra, the New Orleans Brass Quintet, an a teenage funk group called the Creators, along with his brother Branford. In 1977, Marsalis won the "Most Outstanding Musician Award" at the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina.

Started Spreading the News

He went on to study music at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood in Massachusetts, where he received their Harvey Shapiro Award for the outstanding brass player. He turned down the scholarship offers from Ivy League schools to attend New York's Juilliard School of Music on full scholarship. While in school, he played with the Brooklyn Philharmonia and the Mexico City Symphony. He supported himself with a position in the pit band for Sweeney Todd on Broadway.

In 1980, Art Blakey asked Marsalis to spend the summer touring with his Jazz Messengers. His performances began to attract national attention, and he eventually became the band's musical director. While on the road with Blakey, Marsalis decided to change his image and began wearing suits to his performances. "For us, it was a statement of seriousness," Marsalis told Howard Reich in Down Beat. "We come out here, we try to entertain our audience and play, and we want to look good so they can feel good."

The following year, Marsalis decided to leave Juilliard to continue his education on the road. He played with Blakey and received an offer to tour with Herbie Hancock's V.S.O.P. quartet. Marsalis jumped at the chance, as the V.S.O.P. included bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, who had both played with Miles Davis. "I knew he was only 19, just on the scene-it's a lot to put on somebody," Hancock told Steve Bloom in Rolling Stone. "But then I realized if we don't hand down some of this stuff that happened with Miles, it'll just die when we die."

Warmed up Career

Marsalis performed throughout the United States and Japan with the V.S.O.P. and played on the double album Quartet. The increased attention led to an unprecedented recording contract with Columbia Records for both jazz and classical music. He released his self-titled debut album as a leader in 1981. Later that year, he formed his own jazz band with his brother Branford, Kenny Kirkland, Jeff Watts, and bassists Phil Bowler and Ray Drummond. His success didn't go unnoticed in his hometown, either. New Orleans Mayor Ernest Morial proclaimed a Wynton Marsalis Day in February of 1982.

Wynton Marsalis recorded one side of an album with his father Ellis and Branford Marsalis, called For Fathers and Sons. The other side was recorded by saxophonist Chico Freeman and his father Von Freeman. In 1983, Marsalis released jazz and classical LPS simultaneously. The jazz record, Think of One, marked the debut of his jazz quintet and sold nearly 200,000 copies, about ten times what was considered a successful jazz album. The recording and Marsalis received many comparisons to Miles Davis and other musicians of the 1960s. "We don't reclaim music from the 1960s; music is a continuous thing," Marsalis explained to Mandell in Down Beat. "We're just trying to play what we hear as the logical extension. … A tree's got to have roots."

He recorded his classical debut, Trumpet Concertos, in London with Raymond Leppard and the National Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1984, Marsalis set another precedent by becoming the first artist to be nominated or win two Grammy awards in two categories during the same year.

Big Sounds in the Big Apple

He won another Grammy award in 1987 for his album Marsalis Standard Time Vol. 1. During the same year, he co-founded the Jazz at Lincoln Center program in New York City. When the program began, Marsalis became the artistic director for the eleven-month season. As part of his contract, he had to compose one piece of music for each year. Despite his new position, he continued to record and tour in both jazz and classical music.

He released Majesty of the Blues in 1989 and The Resolution of Romance in 1990. He dedicated the latter to his mother, and it included contributions from his father Ellis and his brother Delfeayo. "If you are really dealing with music, you are trying to elevate consciousness about romance," Marsalis explained to Dave Helland in Down Beat. "Music is so closely tied up with sex and sensuality that when you are dealing with music, you are trying to enter the world of that experience, trying to address the richness of the interaction between a man and a woman, not its lowest reduction."

Marsalis' study of New Orleans styles resulted in a trilogy called Soul Gestures in Southern Blue in 1990. Describing the set, Howard Reich wrote in Down Beat, "the crying blue notes of 'Levee Low Moan,' the church harmonies of 'Psalm 26,' the sultry ambiance of 'Thick in the South' all recalled different settings and epochs in New Orleans music. And yet the tautness of Marsalis' septet, the economy of the motifs, and the adventurousness of the harmonies proclaimed this as new music, as well."

Using history to create his present sound became Marsalis' goal, along with exploring the rich tapestry of the different eras and styles of jazz. His first commission for the jazz program at Lincoln Center, In This House, On This Morning was performed in 1993. In it, he used the music of the African-American church as his primary inspiration.

Evolved into Jazz Spokesman

In the fall of 1994, Marsalis announced that his septet had disbanded. However, he continued composing, recording, and performing. The following year, he produced a four-part video series called Marsalis on Music, which aired on PBS. In May of 1995, his first string quartet, (At the) Octoroon Balls debuted at the Lincoln Center.

He continued to release classical works as well. He re-recorded the Haydn, Hummel, and Leopold Mozart concertos from Trumpet Concertos in 1994. Two years later, he released In Gabriel's Garden, which he recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra and Anthony Newman on harp-sichord and organ.

"I want to keep developing myself as a complete musician," Marsalis told Ken Smith in Stereo Review," so I take on projects either to teach me something new or else to document some development. With this new Baroque album, I felt that I'd never really played that music before with the right authority or rhythmic fire." Marsalis produced the Olympic Jazz Summit at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and won 1996 Peabody Awards for both Marsalis on Music and for his National Public Radio Show "Wynton Marsalis: Making the Music." At the end of 1996, Time magazine named him one of America's 25 Most Influential People.

A major part of his influence went out to the country's youth. When he's not working on his own music, he traveled to schools across the country to talk about music in an effort to continue the tradition of jazz. "I'm always ready to put my own neck on the line for change," Marsalis told Lynn Norment in Ebony. "No school is too bad for me to go to.… I'll try to teach anybody. We are all striving for the same thing, to make our community stronger and richer. That's what the jazz musician has always been about."

Won Pulitzer Prize

In April of 1994, his biggest piece, Blood on the Fields, had its debut performance at the Lincoln Center. Marsalis composed the oratorio for three singers and a 14-piece orchestra, and it described the story of two Africans, Leona and Jesse, who found love despite the difficulties of American slavery. "I wanted to orchestrate for the larger ensemble and write for voices-something I'd never done," Marsalis said to V.R. Peterson in a People magazine interview. "I wanted to make the music combine with the words, yet make the characters seem real."

With Blood on the Fields, Marsalis won the first non-classical Pulitzer Prize award in history. Because of his piece, the selection board changed the criteria from "for larger forms including chamber, orchestra, song, dance, or other forms of musical theater" to "for distinguished musical composition of significant dimension." Columbia Records released the oratorio on a three-CD set in June of 1997.

He followed the release with recordings of two other previously performed works on one album. His collaboration with New York City Ballet director, Peter Martins' Jazz/ Six Syncopated Movements and Jump Start written for ballet director, Twyla Tharp, were both included on the record. Marsalis' work in jazz and classical music combined with his often outspoken attitude toward musical integrity surrounded him with controversy throughout his career. Despite the criticism, his talent was never questioned. As Eric Alterman described in The Nation, he's "a man universally acknowledged to be a master musician and perhaps the most ambitious composer alive."

Further Reading

Down Beat, January 1982; July 1984; September 1990; December 1992; February 1994; May 1995.

Ebony, July 1994.

Life, August 1993.

The Nation, May 12, 1997.

People, May 12, 1997.

Rolling Stone, November 8, 1984.

Stereo Review, July 1996.

Utne Reader, March-April, 1996.

Sony music press materials, www.music.sony.com, 1997. □

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Marsalis, Wynton

WYNTON MARSALIS

Born: Kenner, Louisiana, 18 October 1961

Genre: Jazz

Best-selling album since 1990: Marsalis Plays Monk: Standard Time Vol. 4 (1999)


Wynton Marsalis has been one of the world's most prominent practitioners and champions of jazz since becoming the first person to win Grammys in both jazz and classical categories with Columbia Records in 1983, and repeating the feat in 1984. Well dressed, articulate, puckish, ambitious, and hard-working, he is a virtuosic trumpeter, an accomplished composer, a persuasive classicist, a savvy media star, a hands-on band-leader, and co-founder/artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, which became a full-fledged constituent of America's largest cultural performance institution in 1995. Marsalis personally conducts the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra annually through two full seasons and international tours while participating in a host of auxiliary events. From 1988 through 1994, he maintained a separate sextet, which has continued to perform since then, although less frequently and with changes in personnel. By 2003 Marsalis was averaging 120 performances a year. His discography since 1990 has encompassed the Pulitzer Prizewinning oratorio Blood on the Fields (1997); Live at the Village Vanguard (1999), a boxed set of seven nights with his band in a jazz club; and In Gabriel's Garden (1996), recordings of Baroque concertos by Bach and Purcell.

Marsalis has won nine Grammys, as well as the Grand Prix du Disque of France, the Edison Award of the Netherlands, and honorary membership in England's Royal Academy of Music. He was among America's "25 most influential people" in 1996, according to Time magazine. He was designated a "Messenger of Peace" by the United Nations (2001) and received a U.S. Congressional "Horizon Award" in 2002.

Wynton Marsalis is the son of the New Orleans jazz pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, the younger brother of saxophonist Branford, and the older sibling of trombonist Delfeayo and drummer Jason. Wynton started on his career course in childhood, studied trumpet formally from age twelve, and spent time with Danny Barker, a banjo player and guitarist for Jelly Roll Morton. In high school Marsalis played with marching bands, jazz bands, funk bands, and, at the age of fourteen, performed Haydn's Trumpet Concerto with the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra. His mature music encompasses all these strains, intricately woven into highly self-referential narratives on jazz and the African-American cultural experience.

Marsalis entered the Juilliard School in New York City in 1979, and, with his brother Branford, a Berklee College of Music student, burst on the jazz scene that same year as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. His debut recording, Wynton Marsalis (1982), cast him leading former Miles Davis band members Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Marsalis also encouraged "young lions": musicians born since 1960, well-versed in classic jazz (especially the bebop of the 1950s and 1960s), with virtuosic skills. Among Marsalis's protégés are drummer Jeff Watts; pianists Kenny Kirkland, Marcus Roberts, and Eric Reed; bassist Christian McBride; and trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Nicholas Payton.

Jazz, to Marsalis, is essentially an African-American-born form of expression, and an agent of progressive meritocracy bearing lessons for the authentic individual and the world. Its heroic lineage began with Louis Armstrong, another New Orleansborn trumpet player, and extends as far as Blakey and vocalist Betty Carter. In 2002 Jazz at Lincoln Center began to feature music from outside the United States, principally Cuba, Spain, and Brazil. Marsalis embraces the mid-1960s music of John Coltrane, such as A Love Supreme (1964), but not free jazz, electrically processed instruments, and rock-pop-hip-hop fusions.

Marsalis has promulgated his viewpoint as artistic director, fundraiser, lecturer and curator of Jazz at Lincoln Center; as consultant and interviewee throughout Ken Burns's Jazz, a ten-part, nineteen-hour video documentary that debuted on PBS in 2001; on the VHS/DVD release of his PBS series Marsalis on Music (1995); and in his twenty-six-part National Public Radio series "Making the Music," a 1996 Peabody Award winner. He tirelessly promotes jazz as a serious, important, relevant, and functional (if not commercially robust) concert music.

Stylistically, Marsalis moved through an early phase of Miles Davis emulation to develop a refined personal vocabulary based on faultless articulation and thoroughly considered ideas. Since the 1990s, he has pursued his esthetic by recording a repertoire of deceased jazz giants in addition to his own works; these recordings range from multi-episode "little big band" charts to completely notated, neoromantic and postmodern collages, as heard on his millennium composition All Rise (2002), recorded with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

Spot Light: Marsalis Wins Pulitzer for Blood on the Field

In 1997 Wynton Marsalis became the first jazz-identified musician to receive the most celebrated musical award presented in the United Statesthe Pulitzer Prize for Music Compositionfor his libretto and score for Blood on the Field (1997). The oratorio encompasses numerous serious and dramatic subjects relevant in both political and personal spheres, including the pressures on Africans in America seeking freedom from slavery (and by implication, the ongoing effects of slavery on African-American culture), the inevitablility of male-female power struggles, and the impact of tricksters' provocations, all evoked in a kaleidoscope of musical idioms in twenty episodes stretching over three hours. Miles Griffith and Cassandra Wilson sing the parts of the lovers, and Jon Hendricks is Juba, a wise fool. All three vocalists have husky voices, and their parts are pitched in low vocal registers. Marsalis's score is rigorously composed. Though structured as a conventional song cycle, his orchestration seems based on the music of Duke Ellington, employing trumpet, trombone, and saxophone sections in melodic counterpoint and as a backdrop for the vocals, as classical composers use strings, brass, and woodwinds. Propulsion is generated by a jazz rhythm sectionnotably, trap drum kit struck at a steady but usually restrained swing. Soloists break out of the sections in brief bursts, to echo or comment on the singers' lines; the bandmembers also recite non-melodic passages of the libretto in unison, as a chorus. There are many virtuosic demands placed on individual instrumentalists as well as the entire Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra; Marsalis's trumpet is evident throughout, almost as a character in itself. Certain episodes are programmatic, depicting the chaotic emotions at a slave marketplace, or the high-stepping of a New Orleans parade, while some songs"You Don't Hear No Drums," "God Don't Like Ugly," "Look and See"could stand alone. But Marsalis's work is so designed for the specific forces at his command that most other ensembles are likely to be intimidated from attempting to stage it.

Marsalis is the first (and only) jazz artist to win the Pulitzer Prize for music composition (in 1997, for his oratorio Blood on the Fields ). He has also composed for string quartet, chamber orchestra, modern dance, and ballet. Marsalis's disciplined showmanship, in conjunction with the talents of collaborative administrators, transformed Jazz at Lincoln Center from a summer concert program into a full-fledged constituent of the Lincoln Center empire, equal to its two opera companies, the New York City Ballet, the Juilliard School, the film program, and the theater company. Jazz at Lincoln Center's diverse activities under Marsalis's guidance include an annual, nationwide high school big-band competition in which contestants compete by playing Duke Ellington scores. In 2001 ground was broken for what Marsalis calls "the house that swing built," the first multiuse building designed specifically for jazz use at the world headquarters of AOL/Time-Warner in New York City.

Marsalis has authored three books and a jazz curriculum, undertaken musical diplomatic missions (leading the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to China), and recorded more than forty albums in twenty years. Neither critical acclaim nor the confidence of his corporate sponsors has insured him satisfying record sales or a general audience fervent and eager for his personal productions. In 2002 Marsalis and Columbia Records let contract renewal negotiations lapse, despite the release of the prestigious project All Rise (2001).

Marsalis is featured on the Marsalis Family (2003) album with his father and brothers, a production of Branford's Marsalis Music label. In mature mid-career, Wynton Marsalis carries a unique portfolio of achievements, plus increasing responsibilities and possibilities, expectations and challenges.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Think of One (Columbia, 1983); Hot House Flowers (Columbia, 1984); Tune in Tomorrow: The Original Soundtrack (Columbia, 1990); Standard Time, Vol. 3: The Resolution of Romance (Columbia, 1990); Uptown Ruler: Soul Gestures in Southern Blue, Vol. 2 (Columbia, 1991); Blue Interlude (Columbia, 1992); Citi Movement (Columbia, 1993); In This House, on This Morning (Columbia, 1994); Joe Cool's Blues (Columbia, 1995); In Gabriel's Garden (Sony Classical, 1996); Blood on The Fields (Columbia, 1997); Marsalis Plays Monk: Standard Time Vol. 4 (Columbia/Sony Classical, 1999); At the Octoroon Balls/A Fiddler's Tale Suite (Columbia/Sony Classical, 1999); Big Train (Columbia/Sony Classical, 1999); Mr. Jelly Lord: Standard Time Vol. 6 (Columbia/Sony Classical, 1999); The Marciac Suite (Columbia/Sony Classical, 1999); Live at the Village Vanguard (Columbia, 1999); All Rise (Sony Classical, 2001); Trumpet Concertos (Sony Classical, 2002); The Marsalis Family (Marsalis Music, 2003). With Art Blakey: Wynton (Who's Who in Jazz, 1988).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

W. Marsalis, Sweet Swing Blues on the Road (New York, 1994); W. Marsalis, Marsalis on Music (New York, 1995); L. Gourse, Skain's Domain: A Biography (New York, 2000); W. Marsalis, Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues of Life (New York, 2001); W. Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center: Jazz for Young People Curriculum (New York, 2002).

WEBSITES:

www.wyntonmarsalis.net; www.jazzatlincolncenter.org.


howard mandel

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Marsalis, Wynton

Wynton Marsalis (märsăl´Ĭs), 1961–, American trumpeter, bandleader, and composer, b. New Orleans. Born into a distinguished jazz family, he studied classical music at the Juilliard School in New York. He joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers at 18 and rapidly acquired a reputation for brilliant technique and outstanding improvisational talent. In 1982 he formed his own quintet, which included his brother Branford; it became a septet in 1988 and disbanded in 1994. Marsalis also became known for his classical performances, winning Grammies in both categories.

Articulate and outspoken, Wynton Marsalis emerged as a leading spokesman for jazz as well as one of the leading jazz musicians of the 1980s and 90s. When the jazz program at New York's Lincoln Center was initiated in 1991, he was appointed artistic director, a post he has held since. Also an active music educator, he wrote, hosted, and performed in a Public Broadcasting series (1995) on the essentials of classical music and jazz. Marsalis won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for music for his jazz oratorio Blood on the Fields; he was the first jazz musician to receive the award. He has also written a monumental orchestral and choral piece with numerous jazz elements entitled All Rise (2000) and a jazz mass, Abyssinian 200 (2008), which incorporates orchestral music, gospel anthems, prayers, and a sermon.

See biography by L. Gourse (1999).



His older brother, Branford Marsalis, 1960–, b. New Orleans, is a brilliant jazz, rock, pop, and classical saxophonist, a bandleader, and a composer. He attended Boston's Berklee College of Music. Like his brother, he played with the Jazz Messengers and is known for his superb technique and especially for his improvisations. Also noted for his versatility, Branford played with the rock musician Sting during the 1980s and was the music director (1992–94) of television's Tonight Show.

Their younger brother Delfeayo Marsalis, 1965–, b. New Orleans, is a skilled trombonist but has become better known as a producer of jazz recordings. A fourth brother, Jason Marsalis, 1977–, b. New Orleans, is a jazz drummer. Their father, Ellis Marsalis, 1934–, b. New Orleans, is a noted jazz pianist and educator who taught all his sons. Together, the Marsalis family has played a pivotal role in the jazz renaissance of the last two decades of the 20th cent.

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Marsalis, Wynton

Marsalis, Wynton (1961– ) US jazz musician. Marsalis was a member (1980–82) of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, before forming his own group. Marsalis is one of the few jazz players to successfully crossover into classical music. His albums include Black Codes (From the Underground) (1984) and Blood on the Fields (1996).

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