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Download the first chapter of Wynton’s new book

Wynton’s new book, entitled: Moving to Higher Ground: How can Jazz change your life will be in stores on September 2, 2008.
Feel free to download the first chapter of the book (PDF – 78 kb) as free sample.

Discuss about the new book in this special thread on Wynton’s forum.

Table of Contents

“Now That’s Jazz”

Discovering the Joy of Swinging (page 3)

Speaking the Language of Jazz (page 21)

Everybody’s Music: The Blues (page 47)

What it Takes – and How it Feels – to Play (page 63)

The Great Coming-Together (page 87)

Lessons from the Masters (page 109)

That Thing with No Name (page 157)

Wynton’s letter to readers of the new book.

Dear Reader:

When I first decided to become a musician, at the age of 12 or 13, inspired by my father, and by the New Orleans jazz tradition, I was under the impression that I had only to learn the fundamentals of music—rhythm, melody, harmony, texture—to progress as a musician. What I didn’t know then was that over the next three decades, jazz music would teach me many significant things about living. This book is my attempt to share some of the things I’ve learned through jazz about life.

Jazz can help us realize the potential of ourselves and of our country. We hear a lot these days about how important it is for Americans to come together. Well, we’ve been doing that on the bandstand for more than a century. Jazz was integrated long before Jackie Robinson made it to the Majors. It is the unique American music form. It can help us, personally and collectively, to move to higher ground. It proves many working metaphors for successful contemporary democratic engagement.

Central to the music of the great jazz musicians I write about in MOVING TO HIGHER GROUND: How Jazz Can Change Your Life, is the importance of being yourself—of prizing those things that make you unique and that express the truth of who you are—while recognizing the importance of listening to and responding to that same truth from other people. Without that kind of reciprocity, swinging, on stage or in everyday life, is impossible. With it, however, our collective creativity will assuredly take on all types of unimaginable and exciting new forms.

Jazz gives us soulful insights into history and the human condition. The blues, a universal musical form, was born to heal. Jazz helps you find, or hold on to, the proper balance between your right to have things your own way and your responsibility to respect others, while working with them to improvise toward a common goal. Jazz also demonstrates that great art can be for everybody. It’s both down-home and sophisticated. It deals with elite ideas but is not elite. I have written this book because I believe jazz can change your life, as it has changed mine.

I hope you will read MOVING TO HIGHER GROUND: How Jazz Can Change Your Life – and let me hear from you.

Yours in the spirit of swing,
Wynton Marsalis


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  1. I just can say how God bestow his angelic wisdom on you. in deed you are a real motivator, u have motivated me in my trumpet playing, thru some of your disc i have listen to.in deed u are a mento

    classically yours,
    Daniel ozovehe

    Daniel omonoba ozovehe on Dec 29th, 2008 at 11:00am

  2. Peace & Many Blessings to all of the great Wynton Marsalis Fans. My name is Lady Dale and I am not only a Philadelphia Special Education Teacher/Jazz Singer, but also a great admirer of Mr. Marsalis. He has been an inspiration to me over the years. He displays superb musicianship. I take pride in his attempt to enlighten the world about this thing called Jazz. Music is a universal language. Just about every instance in life includes music. My student’s have an option to listen to any genre of music they desire. However, they love the way that Mr. Marsalis improvises. He is articulate, a sharp dresser, seriously dedicated to the music and very compassionate to his many fans. He keeps my student’s interest. He extends his musical ability in the form of television appearances, radio talk shows, magazine ads ect… He’s a role model to many. Charmine, over the years, women have surfaced in the music arena as singers, dancers and even instrumentalists. I can speak from the vocalist aspect. Research tells us that it has always been a struggle for women to fit in or even compete with the male counterpart on the stage. . I believe that there have been some traces of prejudice in the game. For example, singers get to sing one song at a jam session and a musician can play on every tune. Or either the singer has to be barely dressed to get the gig! I have experienced it myself. Nevertheless, through great mentorship and hard work I have also had the opportunity to experience success. The music belongs to the Creator. If the women act professional when they perform I think that they will be able to overcome the oppression that may appear from time to time and then be able to get the respect that is deserved Everybody respects a polished musician. Maybe if we take the gender out of the music and just play the dang song, we will all be able to enjoy the swing of it all. Congratulations Mr. Marsalis on your new book and I will be catching the bus to NYC on Tuesday to come to the book signing and hopefully get my book signed.

    Jazzically yours,

    Lady Dale

    Lady Dale on Aug 30th, 2008 at 7:11pm

  3. Remain blessed!

    TAJUDEEN ADELEKE AJIYOBIOJO on Aug 28th, 2008 at 3:07pm

  4. Thank you, Wynton.

    Karen on Aug 28th, 2008 at 9:20am

  5. Man, Can’t wait to get this book. Wynton always gets to the point of know what good swing is all about!!!!

    Neil King on Aug 27th, 2008 at 8:52pm

  6. Inspiring ideals…

    Once again Wynton has captured the essence of what it is to live through his conceptions about music. He has a deep understanding of what true communication is and though creative in music..he is also delving deeply with words.

    From reading this first Chapter I have begun to grapple with aspects of my being in the world and at times up against the world. Coming to rest in jazz music enables me to move past each crisis toward a more stable position, one that both elevates and grounds me!

    Thanks be to Wynton who is not only masterful with trumpet but also in word, as an angel of wisdom, he sheds truth and light!

    I like that you write and hope that your layers of meaning touch the souls of many, though particluarly those who may be most inspired to meet with a reflection of their own truths.
    I love you…Me

    me on Aug 27th, 2008 at 2:38pm

  7. I don’t think that Wynton discriminates against women in jazz.
    Anyway, I look forward to receive the book to give you a deeper analysis

    Charlie Mak on Aug 27th, 2008 at 8:37am

  8. I read the letter and I am sorry Wynton leaves out a very important detail. The marginalization of women instrumentalists in Jazz music. Women are allowed to sing but they haven’t been promoted or encouraged to play. As a female trumpeter I find this disconcerting. I have always admired Wynton, but again he ignores the struggles of women musicians. Right now it seems like musicians like Tia Fuller and Crystal Torres have to depend on other women to champion their cause. And I for one stand behind them 100% particularly Tia Fuller who is excellent saxophonist from Spelman College an all women’s HBCU. Go TIA !!!

    Charmaine Nokuri on Aug 27th, 2008 at 7:53am

  9. I am printing the first chapter, as the free download, as I write this and look forward to reading the first chapter of what is assured to be an insightful piece of literature.

    Thanks for adding yet another piece for us to read and digest.

    Ryan Resky
    NYC Freelance Trumpeter

    Ryan Resky on Aug 26th, 2008 at 2:48pm

  10. Exploring the elements of Jazz and the diversity of jazz musicians can provide an effective way to present and define the art form… This new publication sounds like the best book yet! Thanks!

    gloria on Aug 26th, 2008 at 12:00pm

  11. Thanks!.

    C. on Aug 26th, 2008 at 11:05am