Plenty on the horn

“I’m gonna be who I am regardless of who I listen to,” says Wynton Marsalis, the young trumpeter who has been setting both the jazz and classical music worlds on their ears with his apparently boundless talent and technique.

The 22-year-old Marsalis, appearing at the International Plaza Hotel’s Plazazz! room, has received a variety of accolades and awards in the 18 months since he became a band leader, including recent nominations for four Grammy awards two each in the jazz and classical category an industry first.

He takes it all in stride, says the classical album (the Haydn/Hummel/L. Mozart Trumpet Concertos recorded with the National Philharmonic Orchestra at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London just over a year ago) is the better performance, and admits he would find it difficult to play them today.

“It’s hard to switch back and forth,” he says. “It would take me a month of practice to get back in shape for classical stuff. Playing jazz makes your control worse but makes your music better. When you’re playing jazz, you have to hear everything that’s going on around you; in the classics, you can just read the music if you want.”

Marsalis has been described as self-assured, even arrogant. He sets his own high standards of excellence, refusing to take seriously such labels as “boy wonder” and “superstar.”

There’s no false modesty here he knows he’s good but he pooh-poohs the idea that he’s already the best in the world and says he’s got a long way to go. “There are certain things you can’t play till you’re old,” he says. “Lots of guys, when they’re young, you can listen and hear that when they’re old, it’ll really be right .”

Getting it right is important to Marsalis. So is success, although that doesn’t necessarily mean making a lot of money.

“I want to contribute something of value to the music,” he says, seriously. “You take pop music today most of it is just trash, it’s decadent. What’s happened to respect for intellect, to art, to romanticism? Even if you haven’t got it right, you want to give the appearance of being correct.”

The serious side is limited to music, however. Dimples flashing, he admits his other big passion is women and that he’s an outrageous flirt. “They’re right up there with music,” he says. “Women are the all-time greatest mystery known to man, and I love them.”

He is a formidable musician, demonstrated by a challenging opening night. (The quintet was a quartet for the evening because pianist Kenny Kirkland missed a flight from New York.) Brother Branford (tenor and soprano sax) another hot talent with an album of his own to be released next month provided many fine moments. Supportive throughout were bassist Charles Fambrough and drummer Jeff Watts. At Plazazz! through Feb. 11. Tickets from VTC.

By Renee Dorutyer
Source: The Province

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