As controversial as he is popular, Wynton Learson Marsalis is one of the most prominent jazz musicians of the modern era and is also a well-known instrumentalist in classical music. Currently the Musical Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis has received many awards for his musical proficiency. These awards run the gambit of Grammys to a controversial awarding of the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his three and half hour jazz oratorio CD box set Blood on the Fields, the first jazz album to win this award. Born in a musically oriented family in the New Orleans jazz scene at a young age Wynton was exposed to many legendary jazz musicians. Some of these musicians were Al Hirt, who gave Wynton his first trumpet when he was 6 years of age and Danny Barker, a legendary jazz banjoist who lead the Fairview Baptist Church band which Wynton was playing in when he was eight. Wynton was very active musically during high school and was a member in many New Orleans musical organizations such as the N.O. symphony brass quintet, the N.O. community concert band, N.O. youth orchestra, N.O. symphony and a popular local funk band called the Creators. In 1978 he had a two-year stay at the Juilliard School of Music before joining the Jazz Messengers to study under master drummer and bandleader, Art Blakey. Not long after that he toured with the Herbie Hancock quartet before forming his own band. After many concerts and workshops Wynton rekindled widespread interest in an art form that had been largely abandoned. He has invested his creative energy and status in being an advocate for a relatively small era in the history of jazz. His advocacy in this area has garnered much controversy for his “classicist” view of jazz history considering post-1965 avant-garde playing to be outside of jazz and 1970s fusion to be barren. This viewpoint was promoted strongly in Ken Burns‘ documentary Jazz; a documentary Wynton was artistic director and co-producer. However despite his controversial views few disagree that his musical abilities in both jazz and classical music are high impressive and worthy of the high praise it often receives.
- Review- Wynton Marsalis (thejazzist.wordpress.com)
- Live Jazz: Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at Disney Hall (irom.wordpress.com)