Wynton Marsalis Featured In Vogue Magazine
Wynton Marsalis loves the sound of New York City. For the 48-year-old jazzman, there’s a thrilling harmony in the jangle of the streets. “If you listen beneath the surface of noise—the construction, the sound of the traffic, beneath the rumble of the subway—you can get down to the different interactions between people,” he says.
If anyone can hear such nuance, surely Marsalis can. Born in sound-rich New Orleans, he came to New York as a seventeen-year-old prodigy to study at the Juilliard School and promptly started gigging with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. These days, as the most famous jazz trumpeter of his generation and the artistic director of the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center, Marsalis is America’s jazz maestro, effortlessly combining downtown cool with uptown finesse.
Recently, he rehearsed with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in their spectacular headquarters at Columbus Circle. From his seat at the back, the soft-spoken Marsalis was subtly shaping his fifteen-piece ensemble. “I want to go over this more intimate stuff,” he said to his longtime crew. “When all of us are playing, we have to play as one.”
Marsalis and his band have plenty of high-profile gigs coming up—including a multimedia composition called “Portrait in Seven Shades,” inspired by paintings in the Museum of Modern Art, but for Marsalis, jazz is intimate, democratic, a love to be shared. He’s nicknamed Jazz at Lincoln Center the “House of Swing,” and with its three concert stages, he considers it the realization of the dreams and aspirations of earlier jazz musicians. “This is a hall where Louis Armstrong could have played,” he says. “This is a hall for our music.”
— Damian Fowler