In a perfect world, all people would live in a democracy created by Wynton Marsalis. While this is unlikely to ever happen, Marsalis has created a perfect democratic world within the realm of jazz music. In fact, Marsalis claims that what you hear in a good jazz band is the sound of democracy: “The jazz band, like our democracy, works best when participation is shaped by intelligent communication.”
Wynton Marsalis has been referred to as the most outstanding jazz musician and trumpeter of his generation. In addition, he is a big-band leader, a talented composer, a tireless advocator for the arts, and an inspiring educator.
Marsalis’s inventive union of jazz and democracy is a testament to his creativity, brilliance and wisdom.
Marsalis became involved with music at a very young age. He proved his aptitude and diligence very early on, and was accepted, at the age of 17, to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center as their youngest member. He eventually went on to work with the Jazz Messengers and played with such jazz greats as Sara Vaughan, Sweets Edison and Clark Terry.
Eventually, Marsalis started his own band, with which he performed over 120 concerts every year for 10 years. Through this experience, he gained recognition from the older generation of jazz musicians and prompted the re-issuance of jazz catalogs by record companies worldwide.
While immersing himself in the jazz world, Marsalis found time to devote to composition as well, and proved himself a brilliant composer. He was especially well-received by the dance community. He has composed for such companies as Garth Fagan Dance, the New York City Ballet, Twyla Tharp for the American Ballet Theatre and for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. He then went on to compose his most ambitious work to date, “All Rise,” which was performed by the New York Philharmonic.
Marsalis also manages to incorporate his love for classical music in his life. He has won nine Grammy Awards and earned the distinction of being the only artist ever to win for both jazz and classical recording.
In spite of his demanding career, Marsalis devotes a large part of himself to educational programs for the arts. In 1987, he started a jazz program at Lincoln Center which includes performances, debates, forums, dances, television broadcasts and educational activities. He has also launched educational broadcast series on PBS and NPR.
Without a doubt, Marsalis is most recognized among musicians of his caliber for his extraordinary character. He has selflessly donated his time to non-profits all over the nation and has worked to promote social change in many different ways.
Wynton Marsalis can be described as an American musician for whom greatness is not merely possible but inevitable.
The Wynton Marsalis Quintet will be performing in two sets at the Michigan Theater this evening. The sets will begin at 7 p.m. and 9:30 pm. respectively.