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Wynton’s Blog

  • I first met Walter Blanding in a master class at LaGuardia High School

    Posted on December 22nd, 2015 | 1

    I first met Walter Blanding in a master class at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in New York City. It was 1986 or so, and he was a dread locked 15/16 year old playing a whole lot of saxophone. We played Take the A Train. Yeah… A year later, I conducted an all-star high jazz band with him, Christian McBride, Farid Baron, Lil John Roberts, and other fantastic young musicians from Philly, New York and Washington D.C.   Keep reading »

  • In 1992, I wrote a ballet for the fantastic New York City Ballet. One movement had to be a train

    Posted on December 21st, 2015

    I grew up with the Mississippi River on the southern end of my block and a train track on the northern end. I loved both. In 1992, I wrote a ballet for the fantastic New York City Ballet. One movement had to be a train. It is called Express Crossing and features all kinds of train onomatopoeia train and goes different tempos and moods.   Keep reading »

  • Psalm 26 represents my first attempt to write for more than two horns

    Posted on December 20th, 2015

    Because I spent my high school years largely playing funk, jazz funk, and some of my father and drummer James Black’s music, my understanding of the blues and American vernacular music came through whatever was to be found in these styles and the few other gigs I would stumble upon from time to time: church gigs that required knowledge of hymns like The Old Rugged Cross, clubs that required songs like Blueberry Hill, parades that required songs like Panama or Lil Liza Jane.   Keep reading »

  • All Rise: Movement 12 - I Am (Don’t You Run From Me)

    Posted on December 19th, 2015

    Luigi suggested that I pick 14 of my compositions that I feel are relevant to the holiday season and have some degree of sophistication. We will post these pieces from 7 days before Christmas through to the New Year. I have picked pieces that span my career and we will culminate with some unreleased sections of the Abyssinian Mass which will be available in the New Year.   Keep reading »

  • Take Robert E. Lee’s statue down and rename the Circle

    Posted on December 16th, 2015 | 2

    In October of 2005, after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, then Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu and I appeared before the U.S. House joint committees of Transportation and Infrastructure to make a plea for what was needed to rebuild our city. Mitch is a fellow trumpet player and champion of healing our city through the arts. We first met in high school through some type of band program or music competition. His father, “Moon”, had been a transitional mayor for the city, challenging segregation and many of the ante-bellum perspectives that kept us mired in 19th century social practices and attitudes.   Keep reading »

  • Creole Contradanzas and Habanera

    Posted on September 28th, 2015 | 6

    These two pieces were written around the same time in the spring of 1995. They share the same ground rhythm, the Habanera. It is a rhythmic coefficient common to South and Central America, Cuba and the Caribbean Islands, many cultures in Africa, India, Pakistan and The Middle and Near East. A syncopated three beat pattern, I learned it growing up in New Orleans. We employ it in everything from traditional jazz to Mardi Gras Indian chants to Creole songs to funk tunes and on and on. We used to beat this rhythm out on anything available and invent rhymes on top of it like Handa Wanda Lil’ Mama.   Keep reading »

  • Performing with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain

    Posted on August 15th, 2015 | 2

    Yesterday I had the honor of playing with the great trumpet section of the under 13 year olds of the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain.   Keep reading »

  • When Marcus arrived, the quality of human substance elevated and the level of interaction deepened

    Posted on May 27th, 2015 | 1

    This has been a rough year for trumpet players. We have lost many giants: Clark Terry, Wilmer Wise, Lew Soloff and this Sunday we said goodbye to Marcus Belgrave.   Keep reading »

  • My 1986 encounter with Miles Davis in Vancouver

    Posted on April 28th, 2015 | 1

    I have recently been asked about my 1986 encounter with Miles Davis in Vancouver. Though I have not thought about it in years, the interest in this incident and the inaccurate recounting of it in Miles’ book (which I addressed publicly before his passing) has for some reason resurfaced. Just for the sake of truth, I called the three men who could verify what happened: Jeff Watts, Robert Hurst and Marcus Roberts. I asked them to comment on a statement of the facts leading up to the impromptu meeting, and they all agreed. Now, almost thirty years has passed. We don’t get the chance to speak that often but shared a good laugh recalling the events of that day. The story and their unedited statements appear below. As you will see, although all three have different feelings about it, not one of them disputes the facts.   Keep reading »

  • I knew that Recife was going to be exceptional

    Posted on April 2nd, 2015 | 2

    As soon as we landed at Recife/Guararapes–Gilberto Freyre International Airport, named in honor of their homeboy Gilberto Freyre, I knew that Recife was going to be exceptional and the perfect place for the final leg of our month-long tour. An airport named for an intellectual who encouraged Brazilians to embrace the Afro side of their cultural heritage and nature? Criticisms of Freyre aside, it’s an unusually enlightened posture in the New World. But from the moment we stepped off the plane, this wonderful and welcoming city graced us with warmth and the finest hospitality.   Keep reading »