Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
(featuring Soweto Kinch & Peter King)
@ the Barbican Centre
18 June 2010
Click an image to enlarge.
Wynton Marsalis biography
Wynton Marsalis is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer,
bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of American culture.
He is the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose
across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to bebop
to modern jazz. By creating and performing an expansive range of
brilliant new music for quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles
to symphony orchestras, tap dance to ballet, Marsalis has expanded
the vocabulary for jazz and created a vital body of work that places
him among the world’s finest musicians and composers.
Wynton Marsalis was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on October
18, 1961 to Ellis and Dolores Marsalis, the second of six sons.
At an early age he exhibited a superior aptitude for music and a
desire to participate in American culture. At age 8 Marsalis performed
traditional New Orleans music in the Fairview Baptist Church band
led by legendary banjoist Danny Barker, and at 14 he performed with
the New Orleans Philharmonic. During high school Marsalis performed
with the New Orleans Symphony Brass Quintet, New Orleans Community
Concert Band, New Orleans Youth Orchestra, New Orleans Symphony,
various jazz bands and the popular local funk band, the Creators.
At age 17 Marsalis became the youngest musician ever to be admitted
to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center. Despite his youth,
he was awarded the school’s prestigious Harvey Shapiro Award
for outstanding brass student. Marsalis moved to New York City to
attend Juilliard in 1979. When he began to pick up gigs around town,
the grapevine began to buzz. In 1980 Marsalis seized the opportunity
to join the Jazz Messengers to study under master drummer and bandleader
Art Blakey. It was from Blakey that Wynton acquired his concept
for bandleading and for bringing intensity to each and every performance.
In the years to follow Marsalis performed with Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy
Gillespie, Sweets Edison, Clark Terry, Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter,
Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and countless other jazz legends.
Marsalis assembled his own band in 1981 and hit the road, performing
over 120 concerts every year for 15 consecutive years. With the
power of his superior musicianship, the infectious sound of his
swinging bands and an exhaustive series of performances and music
workshops, Marsalis rekindled widespread interest in jazz throughout
the world. Marsalis embraced the jazz lineage to garner recognition
for the older generation of overlooked jazz musicians and prompted
the re-issue of jazz catalogue by record companies worldwide. He
also inspired a renaissance that attracted a new generation of fine
young talent to jazz. A look at the more distinguished jazz musicians
of today reveals numerous students of Marsalis’ workshops:
James Carter, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Harry Connick Jr.,
Nicholas Payton, Eric Reed and Eric Lewis, to name a few.
Marsalis’ love of the music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and
others drove him to pursue a career in classical music as well.
He recorded the Haydn, Hummel and Leopold Mozart trumpet concertos
at age twenty. His debut recording received glorious reviews and
won the Grammy Award for “Best Classical Soloist with an Orchestra.”
Marsalis went on to record 10 additional classical records, all
to critical acclaim. Marsalis performed with leading orchestras
including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston
Pops, The Cleveland Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, English
Chamber Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and London’s
Royal Philharmonic, working with an eminent group of conductors
including: Leppard, Dutoit, Maazel, Slatkin, Salonen, and Tilson-Thomas.
Famed classical trumpeter Maurice André praised Marsalis
as “potentially the greatest trumpeter of all time.”
To date Wynton Marsalis has produced over 60 records which have
sold over 7 million copies worldwide including 3 Gold Records. His
recordings consistently incorporate a heavy emphasis on the blues,
an inclusive approach to all forms of jazz from New Orleans to modern
jazz, persistent use of swing as the primary rhythm, an embrace
of the American popular song, individual and collective improvisation,
and a panoramic vision of compositional styles from dittys to dynamic
call and response patterns (both within the rhythm section and between
the rhythm section and horn players). Always swinging, Marsalis
blows his trumpet with a clear tone and a unique, virtuosic style
derived from an encyclopedic range of trumpet techniques.
Wynton Marsalis is a prolific and inventive composer. The dance
community embraced Marsalis’ inventiveness by awarding him
with commissions to create new music for Garth Fagan (Citi Movement
- Griot New York), Peter Martins at the New York City Ballet (Jazz:
Six Syncopated Movements and Them Twos), Twyla Tharp with the American
Ballet Theatre (Jump Start), Judith Jamison at the Alvin Ailey American
Dance Theatre (Sweet Release and Here…Now), and Savion Glover
(Petite Suite and Spaces). Marsalis collaborated with the Lincoln
Center Chamber Music Society in 1995 to compose the string quartet
At The Octoroon Balls, and again in 1998 to create a response to
Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale with his composition A
Fiddler’s Tale. With his collection of standards arrangements,
Marsalis reconnected audiences with the beauty of the American popular
song (Standard Time Volumes I-VI).
In the fall of 1995 Marsalis launched two major broadcast events.
In October PBS premiered Marsalis On Music, an educational television
series on jazz and classical music. The series was written and hosted
by Marsalis and was enjoyed by millions of parents and children.
Writers distinguished Marsalis On Music with comparisons to Leonard
Bernstein’s celebrated Young People’s Concerts of the
50s and 60s. That same month National Public Radio aired the first
of Marsalis’ 26-week series entitled Making the Music. These
entertaining and insightful radio shows were the first full exposition
of jazz music in American broadcast history. Marsalis’ radio
and television series were awarded the most prestigious distinction
in broadcast journalism, the George Foster Peabody Award. Marsalis
has also written five books: Sweet Swing Blues on the Road, Jazz
in the Bittersweet Blues of Life, To a Young Musician: Letters from
the Road, Jazz ABZ (an A to Z collection of poems celebrating jazz
greats), and his most recent release Moving to Higher Ground: How
Jazz Can Change Your Life.
Wynton Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards in grand style. In
1983 he became the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for both
jazz and classical records; and he repeated the distinction by winning
jazz and classical Grammys again in 1984. Today Marsalis is the
only artist ever to win Grammy Awards in five consecutive years
(1983-1987). Honorary degrees have been conferred upon Marsalis
by thirty-one of America’s leading academic institutions including
Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Howard and Yale. Elsewhere Marsalis
was honoured with the Louis Armstrong Memorial Medal and the Algur
H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts. He was inducted into
the American Academy of Achievement and was dubbed an Honorary Dreamer
by the “I Have a Dream Foundation.” The New York Urban
League awarded Marsalis with the Frederick Douglass Medallion for
distinguished leadership and the American Arts Council presented
him with the Arts Education Award. Time magazine selected Marsalis
as one of America’s most promising leaders under age 40 in
1995, and in 1996 Time celebrated Marsalis again as one of America’s
25 most influential people.
In November 2005 Wynton Marsalis received The National Medal of
Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States Government.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan proclaimed Wynton Marsalis
an international ambassador of goodwill for the Unites States by
appointing him a UN Messenger of Peace (2001).
In 1997 Wynton Marsalis became the first jazz musician ever to
win the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his epic oratorio “Blood
On The Fields”. During the five preceding decades, the Pulitzer
Prize jury refused to recognize jazz musicians and their improvisational
music, reserving this distinction for classical composers. In the
years following Marsalis’ award, the Pulitzer Prize for Music
has been awarded posthumously to Duke Ellington, George Gershwin,
Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. In a personal note to Marsalis,
Zarin Mehta wrote, “I was not surprised at your winning
the Pulitzer Prize for Blood On The Fields. It is a broad, beautifully
painted canvas that impresses and inspires. It speaks to us all
… I’m sure that somewhere in the firmament Buddy Bolden,
Louis Armstrong and legions of others are smiling down on you.”
Marsalis’ creativity has been celebrated throughout the
world. He won the Netherlands’ Edison Award and the Grand
Prix Du Disque of France. The Mayor of Vitoria, Spain awarded Marsalis
with the city’s Gold Medal – its most coveted distinction.
Britain’s senior conservatoire, the Royal Academy of Music,
granted Mr. Marsalis Honorary Membership, the Academy’s highest
decoration for a non-British citizen (1996). The city of Marciac,
France erected a bronze statue in his honour. The French Ministry
of Culture appointed Wynton Marsalis the rank of Knight in the Order
of Arts and Literature and in the fall of 2009 Marsalis received
France’s highest distinction, the insignia Chevalier of the
Legion of Honour, an honour that was first awarded by Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 1987 Wynton Marsalis co-founded a jazz program at Lincoln Center.
In July 1996, due to its significant success, Jazz at Lincoln Center
was installed as new constituent of Lincoln Center, equal in stature
with the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, and New York
City Ballet - a historic moment for jazz as an art form and for
Lincoln Center as a cultural institution. In October 2004, with
the assistance of a dedicated Board and staff, Marsalis opened Frederick
P. Rose Hall, the world’s first institution for jazz. The
complex contains three state-of-the-art performance spaces (including
the first concert hall designed specifically for jazz) along with
recording, broadcast, rehearsal and educational facilities. Jazz
at Lincoln Center has become a preferred venue for New York jazz
fans and a destination for traveller from throughout the world.
Marsalis presently serves as Artistic Director for Jazz at Lincoln
Center and Music Director for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Under Marsalis’ leadership Jazz at Lincoln Center has developed
an international agenda presenting rich and diverse programming
that includes concerts, debates, film forums, dances, television
and radio broadcasts, and educational activities.
Jazz at Lincoln Center is a mecca for learning as well as a hub
for performance. Their comprehensive educational programming includes
a Band Director’s Academy; a hugely popular concert series
for kids called Jazz For Young People, Jazz in the Schools, a Middle
School Jazz Academy, WeBop! (For kids ages 8 months to 5 years),
an annual High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival that
reaches over 2000 bands in 50 states and Canada, and online learning
Wynton Marsalis has devoted his life to uplifting populations
worldwide with the egalitarian spirit of jazz. And while his body
of work is enough to fill two lifetimes, Wynton continues to work
tirelessly to contribute even more to our world’s cultural
landscape. It has been said that he is an artist for whom greatness
is not just possible, but inevitable. The most extraordinary dimension
of Wynton Marsalis, however, is not his accomplishments but his
character. It is the lesser-known part of this man who finds endless
ways to give of himself. It is the person who waited in an empty
parking lot for one full hour after a concert in Baltimore, waiting
for a single student to return from home with his horn for a trumpet
lesson. It is the citizen who personally funds scholarships for
students and covers medical expenses for those in need. Immediately
following Hurricane Katrina, Marsalis organised the Higher Ground
Hurricane Relief Concert and raised over $3M for musicians and cultural
organizations impacted by the hurricane. At the same time, he assumed
a leadership role on the Bring Back New Orleans Cultural Commission
where he was instrumental in shaping a master plan that would revitalize
the city’s cultural base. Wynton Marsalis has selflessly donated
his time and talent to non-profit organisations throughout the country
to raise money to meet the many needs within our society. From My
Sister’s Place (a shelter for battered women) to Graham Windham
(a shelter for homeless children), the Children’s Defense
Fund, Amnesty International, the Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute,
Food For All Seasons (a food bank for the elderly and disadvantaged),
Very Special Arts (an organization that provides experiences in
dance, drama, literature, and music for individuals with physical
and mental disabilities) to the Newark Boys Chorus School (a full-time
academic music school for disadvantaged youths) and many, many more
- Marsalis responded enthusiastically to the call for service. It
is Wynton Marsalis’ commitment to the improvement of life
for all people that portrays the best of his character and humanity.
Desert Island Discs
Which 2 albums would you take with you to a desert island?
"Mmm… I don't know, I really have no idea!"
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd.