Lip Problem Sidelines Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis has an inflammation of the lip that has forced him to take a break from playing trumpet, Jazz at Lincoln Center confirmed yesterday.

“We’ve taken him off any performances for the month of May,” Lisa Schiff, the chairwoman of Jazz at Lincoln Center, said in an interview. “It happens to the people who play as intensely as Wynton does, and we just have to deal with it.” Mr. Marsalis is the organization’s artistic director.

“I know we’re disappointing people,” she added. “Wynton is disappointed.”

As a result of the injury, Jazz at Lincoln Center has postponed a concert featuring the Wynton Marsalis Quartet and the Orion String Quartet scheduled for Thursday through next Saturday. The concert will instead take place on Sept. 20, in Rose Theater at Frederick P. Rose Hall.

Mary Fiance Fuss, a spokeswoman for Jazz at Lincoln Center, said Mr. Marsalis’s next public performance would be at the organization’s annual spring benefit, on June 5 at the Apollo Theater. But she said he had pulled out of a tour in June with the New Orleans musicians Dr. John and the Neville Brothers, which includes stops in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Illinois and Indiana.

In a departure from his usual practice, Mr. Marsalis is not playing trumpet in his new two-hour composition, “Congo Square,” which had its New York premiere at Rose Theater on Thursday night and will be performed again tonight. But Ms. Schiff said that this was not because of the lip injury, but rather because it was a complex piece of music, and that Mr. Marsalis saw his role in it only as conductor.

Although the season is coming to a close, Mr. Marsalis’s absence from the stage will be significant, as he is the backbone of Jazz at Lincoln Center. “It’s regrettable; we’re all upset,” Ms. Schiff said. “But at the end of the day, his rare and wonderful gift is what matters here.”

Mr. Marsalis’s injury is yet another bump in the road for the jazz organization. Last month its president and chief executive, Derek E. Gordon, decided to step down after little more than a year in the job. The institution has been adjusting to the demands of its new home in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, which has three different stages and annual operating costs of $35 million.

Ms. Schiff suggested that Mr. Marsalis would not be the best of patients. He picked up his horn at a recent Jazz for Young People concert in New Orleans, for example, when he was supposed to be abstaining. “Wynton will go down playing,” she said.

by Robin Pogrebin
Source: The New York Times

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