Jazz, he says

Wynton Marsalis is a perpetual explorer. The 33-year-old premier jazz trumpeter said he continues to develop his art form by experimenting with musical styles and configuration of groups. Marsalis has played R&B, classical and popular music. Two years ago, he worked with choreographer Peter Martins and the New York City Ballet to compose, “Six and a Half Syncopated Movements for Jazz Band and Dancer,” which includes ragtime, fiddlers’ reels, Sousa marches, blues and ballads.

At Lincoln Center, where he is artistic director of the jazz program, Marsalis has performed big band music. He is planning a dance piece for choreographer Twyla Tharp, a Broadway score and a composition combining chamber music and jazz. “Music has so much range and so much possibility and I try to discover new things every day and keep my ears open,” Marsalis said in a recent telephone Interview. “There is so much to learn and explore. Music is like a castle with so many rooms and trap doors and towers and chambers and dungeons.”

Marsalis was scheduled to bring his septet to La Crosse as part of Viterbo College’s Bright Star Season, but he chose a quintet for his performance on Sunday, April 23, at Viterbo. The concert has been sold out for three months.

“There are even more possibilities with a smaller group,” Marsalis said. “There is more space to solo and develop a more intimate sound.” The Marsalis quintet is on a two-month 24-city tour that started in March In Alaska and will end In the Midwest with stops In La Crosse, Green Bay and Madison. In La Crosse, the quintet will play some jazz standards and originals of such jazz greats as Thelonious Monk and Charles Parker. Just before the tour, Columbia Records released Marsalis’ latest recording, Joe Cool’s Blues, a collection of 13 new songs. Seven songs were written by Marsalis for a Charlie Brown program, “This is America Charlie Brown – The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk” and are performed by his septet.

“I always liked Peanuts and always watched Charlie Brown because it was the only time I heard jazz on television,” Marsalis said. Composer Vince Guaraldi wrote jazz music for Charlie Brown programs. Marsalis, an eight-time Grammy winner, said he would like to write more music for cartoons. “Music is not just one thing,” Marsalis said. “There are many avenues to go down. I’d even like to be one of the voices in a cartoon.” Marsalis has written a book, “Sweet Swing Blues on the Road,” about what it is like to be a bandleader who is constantly on the road. He said he is striving for a deeper understanding of music based on reflection, observation and interaction with all kinds of people.

“I was playing a piece in my hotel room one day and I asked the guy cleaning the room what he thought of it and he said I needed to repeat that one section. And I took his advice,” Marsalis said. Marsalis said one of his missions in life is to cultivate younger talent, and he has younger musicians in his quintet. “I’ve been fortunate my entire career that people have come out to support me,” he said. Another mission, he said, is to cultivate a love for inzz music all over the country. “Jazz music is one of our country’s greatest assets,” Marsalis said, “and I’m spreading the gospel.”

By Terry Rindfleisch
Source: The La Crosse Tribune

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