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Wynton’s Blog

  • One-stop classes are fun but not as productive as return visits

    Posted on February 13th, 2015 | 2

    Last Friday after driving back from Strathmore in the wee hours of the morning, I got up at 7, ironed and went to Isaac Newton Middle School for Math and Science in Harlem. It was a great day, because I enjoyed speaking to a class of 7th graders there last October and returning means that Principal Lisa Nelson approved of my overall vibration and way of teaching. I love the school and the communal feeling that she, the faculty, and staff strive to establish and maintain. It’s not easy.   Keep reading »

  • Music is always so much deeper than notes

    Posted on February 6th, 2015

    It’s now 5 am and I’ve just finished ironing my suit for tomorrow’s 9:15 class after having driven back to New York with Jay Sgroi from the Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, Maryland. It is a such a beautiful facility, warm and perfectly designed to encourage the expression of communal feeling. I’m writing now to preserve the afterglow of this experience.   Keep reading »

  • I watched that game in the home of Wilmer Wise

    Posted on February 2nd, 2015 | 8

    In 1972, when the Oakland Raiders lost the AFC Championship to the Pittsburgh Steelers on a fluke last second play, which became known as the “Immaculate Reception”, I thought my life would end. The fog of depression and disappointment generated an irrational animosity towards Pittsburgh that I held on to until the 1980’s when I met Chuck Noll, the coach of that Steelers team, at a gig and discovered that he loved jazz.   Keep reading »

  • The honor and privilege of working with beautiful young musicians at the Shenandoah Conservatory

    Posted on January 24th, 2015 | 1

    The last 4 days I have had the honor and privilege of working with beautiful young musicians at the Shenandoah Conservatory. In collaboration with the fabulous Washington Performing Arts Society, we rehearsed my Blues Symphony with the Conservatory Orchestra conducted by Jan Wagner.  I also held master classes with the National Jazz Workshop All Star Band directed by Alan Baylock and the Shenandoah Conservatory Jazz Ensemble directed by Craig Fraedrich.   Keep reading »

  • 1982 was my first year as a bandleader

    Posted on December 30th, 2014

    1982 was my first year as a bandleader.  Thanks to Michael and Randy Brecker, our quintet had a regular gig at their Manhattan club, Seventh Avenue South.  It was ironic because only five or six years earlier my brother Branford and I had been at home in New Orleans learning their horn parts on Parliament Records and playing Brecker Brothers songs like “Some Skunk Funk” in our high school jazz ensemble.  They took a risk on us and I’m forever grateful.  What they provided for us was what every developing band needs:  a reliable home base to work out technical aspects of music under the pressure of an audience, and a welcoming place to learn how to move a room of people with diverse and specific emotion.   Keep reading »

  • Visiting the great Clark Terry in the hospital

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 | 3

    Yesterday we drove 4 hours from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Pine Bluff to visit the great Clark Terry (CT as we call him). This was a day off and originally planned as a trip to his home to celebrate his upcoming 94th birthday (on December 14th) but an emergency on Friday night had landed CT in the hospital. With literally no lead-time, the hospital was able to source and set up a classroom so we could come in and play for him. As we pulled up to the everyday world of the hospital, with two tour buses and an equipment truck, we knew it would be special. From the security guards who set aside parking spaces for us, to the hospital administrators, aides and the assistants working specifically with Clark, to his wife Gwen and some of their friends, everyone and everything was soaked in hospitality, human feeling and soul.   Keep reading »

  • The Big Band Holiday tour in Carmel, IN

    Posted on December 5th, 2014

    We left Green Bay at 7:00 am for Carmel, Indiana. You have to always take Chicago Rush hour into account.  Although sound check was scheduled to start at 6:00 pm, with 390 miles to drive and at least one stop for food, the day is packed tight.  Whenever we drive by Chicago, Frank Stewart and Andre Bragg always – rain, sleet, snow, hail – stop at Lem’s Bar-B-Q on the South Side for some hot links. This trip is no exception.   Keep reading »

  • A day off in Green Bay

    Posted on December 4th, 2014

    A day off in Green Bay and the Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy gave the cats in the band a tour of Lambeau Field. Some of us spend days off relaxing; others work on music and other projects, and still others go out to see things and participate in the life of the community.  In the midst of catching up on the emails and written obligations for Jazz at Lincoln Center and Juilliard I had a moment to reflect on the recent happenings in our country.   Keep reading »

  • The Big Band Holiday tour in Green Bay

    Posted on December 3rd, 2014

    Green Bay reminds me of my cousin Charles Harris. When we were growing up everything was always about the Green Bay Packers. Being a Raiders and Saints fan, Green Bay was never on my list of favorite destination.  Green Bay is the Packers.  That’s all to that. Whenever anyone hears the name Green Bay, they think Packers and Vince Lombardi.   Keep reading »

  • The Big Band Holiday tour in Minneapolis, MN

    Posted on December 2nd, 2014

    On the drive to Minneapolis I checked out the violin concertos of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Sibelius, and Benjamin Britten. I am working on a concerto for Scottish virtuoso Nicola Benedetti and critical listening to concertos is educational and essential for me to form the identity of this work.  It is also just fun.   Keep reading »