Wynton’s Blog

Creole Contradanzas and Habanera

Creole Contradanzas (from At the Octoroon Balls)

Habanera (from Jump Start & Jazz)

These two pieces were written around the same time in the spring of 1995. They share the same ground rhythm, the Habanera. It is a rhythmic coefficient common to South and Central America, Cuba and the Caribbean Islands, many cultures in Africa, India, Pakistan and The Middle and Near East. A syncopated three beat pattern, I learned it growing up in New Orleans.

We employ it in everything from traditional jazz to Mardi Gras Indian chants to Creole songs to funk tunes and on and on. We used to beat this rhythm out on anything available and invent rhymes on top of it like Handa Wanda Lil’ Mama.


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  1. My friend and I were lucky enough to receive two tickets to see you at the Mondavi Center in Davis, CA and while I will agree that your music is soul stirring, I will say that you as an individual are a gift to the universe. Mr. Marsalis, we went back stage, and I witnessed you speak with at least 100 young students. You spent 2 and 1/2 hours answering each question and taking photos with each child. I taught for 25 years and I have NEVER seen such a divine sharing of spirit as what I witnessed that evening. You gave me hope that there are truly good people out there. Thank you so much for your music and thank you so very much for your devotion to the arts and to children. I am now a forever fan. Oh, and thank you for taking a photo with us too!!

    Mary Calvo on Oct 13th, 2015 at 8:44pm

  2. We were lucky to get tickets to your Lincoln Center Jazz concert in Santa Fe, NM. To say it was exquisite is an understatement! Your musical mastery is unparalleled. The entire orchestra is amazing in its tight, melodic harmonies. All I can think, is when can I experience this delightful music again!!! Thank you!

    Betty Billups on Oct 13th, 2015 at 11:06am

  3. I am so looking to seeing you perform at Proctors, in Schenectady, New York! Welcome

    Rebecca Jones on Oct 5th, 2015 at 11:52pm

  4. My wife and I were absolutely amazed at the concert October 2, 2015 at the Performing Arts Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma! My one word for the group is Professionalism! They are Masters in the Art of Jazz! I believe great healing and unity occurred in that performance last night. Thank you, sir from the bottom of my heart!

    Dennis Henley on Oct 3rd, 2015 at 10:18am

  5. The Berlin Philharmonic has an app that allows you to view live concerts. Any chance that the Jazz At Lincoln Center shows will do something like that?

    Howard Gibbs on Oct 1st, 2015 at 1:47pm

  6. Thank you for the blog

    Robin James on Sep 28th, 2015 at 1:18pm