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Wynton’s Blog

  • The Big Band Holiday tour in Milwaukee. Dan Nimmer’s hometown

    Posted on December 1st, 2014

    Our first concert on the Big Band Holiday tour was at the Marcus Center in Milwaukee Wisconsin.  Milwaukee is Dan Nimmer’s hometown. His parents were in attendance and he showed off for them by tearing through ‘Santa Claus’ with Carlos and Ali. The first gig of a tour is always tricky because we’re trying to work out who is going to solo on what songs, how to order each song so the concert flows smoothly, how to balance talking with playing and generally seeing how the gig plays out.  You don’t know if the show is effective until it is over.  Sometimes gigs earlier in the week consist of one 90-minute set instead of two halves. Tonight was a 90. They are always more difficult to program because you have to conceive of the impact of different tunes across a longer time. Though I was apprehensive, the gig was well received and Cecile was an absolute star.   Keep reading »

  • Do you all ever get nervous?

    Posted on October 6th, 2014 | 1

    On Thursday in St. Louis, we opened the Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz. The Center houses a new Centene Jazz Education Center and a completely renovated and redesigned Ferring Jazz Bistro.   Keep reading »

  • Don’t compete with people, compete with yourself.

    Posted on September 9th, 2014 | 1

    This weekend I received a Legend Award from the National Black Arts Foundation in Atlanta.  I was given the opportunity to choose musicians to play for the awards ceremony and requested Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio and the great Detroit trumpeter and educator, Marcus Belgrave.   Keep reading »

  • Jazz is the one area of American social life that embraced freedom, equality and excellence

    Posted on July 27th, 2014

    Jazz is the one area of American social life that embraced freedom, equality and excellence through diversity and integration throughout the 20th century.   Keep reading »

  • What about something new?

    Posted on June 12th, 2014 | 1

    Since I began playing Jazz music publicly, I have been asked many of the same questions over and over by the boldest members of a given audience such as:   Keep reading »

  • Lifetime Achievement Award to veteran record executive Bruce Lundvall

    Posted on April 27th, 2014

    This Saturday I had the honor of presenting the Jazz Foundation of America’s (JFA) Lifetime Achievement Award to veteran record executive *Bruce Lundvall*. For more than 21 years, The JFA has supported jazz musicians in need. Under the leadership of their irrepressible Vice Chairman Wendy Oxenhorn, they have allowed many of our elders who are struggling or infirm to live with dignity.   Keep reading »

  • Passed in the blink of an eye, man

    Posted on April 8th, 2014

    Whenever we played at UC Berkeley, California, we would always stay at the Claremont Hotel. It is a magnificent 300 room hotel and spa set up on a hill with landscaped gardens and tennis courts. We didn’t want to know about any tennis however; it was always the basketball courts at the University or somewhere in Oakland.   Keep reading »

  • In this tour, we have played 19 concerts of various sizes and shapes

    Posted on March 25th, 2014 | 1

    On this tour, we have played 19 concerts of various sizes and shapes; 104 different compositions by over 33 different composers. Finally, we get to play the new SFJazz Center, five concerts (Ellington, Basie, Mingus, Monk, Traditional New Orleans Music and Recent Arrangements and Compositions by our members) in four days.   Keep reading »

  • You have to WANT to be

    Posted on March 18th, 2014

    For about one and a half hours after the gig in San Diego on Saturday night, I stood on the sidewalk outside the backstage area with about sixty high school age students, their band directors and chaperones, signing autographs, taking pictures and fielding questions about everything from, “Should I whip my younger brother’s behind for x, y and z?” to “How many hours did you practice when you were my age?”   Keep reading »

  • We travelled a few hours from Grass Valley to Santa Rosa

    Posted on March 12th, 2014 | 1

    On Sunday, we travelled a few hours from Grass Valley to Santa Rosa. This was the 5th straight gig, not necessarily difficult on paper, but when connected to 4 or 5 hour drives that become 7 due to the unforeseen, and you drive through lunch, and your room is not ready until whenever someone says, and the soundcheck is at 5, and you have 5 tunes to review, and…whew! The execution can be much rougher than the dream.   Keep reading »