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Wynton’s Blog – 2014 Archives

  • 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, WI

    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 »

  • 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 »