Transcript from Wynton’s interview for CNN Larry King Live

Here is the transcripts from Larry King Live, aired September 4, 2005 – 21:00 ET:

KING: We understand we can connect with Wynton Marsalis now. Who’s performing on the 17th, Wynton?

WYNTON MARSALIS, JAZZ MUSICIAN: Well we have a lot of people, Paul Simon, Buckwheat Zideco, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra will be there, we’re going to have Diana Crawl and Elvis Costello, and a lot more of us are just going to come together, a lot of New Orleans musicians.

KING: How painful this must be for you to watch?

MARSALIS: It’s deeper than pain. You know, pain is something quantifiable, or something we can understand, it’s a deep profound American tragedy.

You were born — how much of the Marsalis family, they’re all in music, come from New Orleans?

MARSALIS: We all come from New Orleans. There’s four of us that are musicians. My father, Ellis, is a piano player and we’re rooted in New Orleans, we come the kind of gumbo of New Orleans, the mix with French, Spanish, West African, Creole, American, all the things in the cultural intelligence that creates New Orleans’ music, New Orleans’ food, New Orleans’ people. We’re the only city in the world with a full culture. So, we’re very proudly New Orleanian.

KING: How can people who want to attend the benefit or want to help, how can they go? What do they do?

MARSALIS: They just have to go to our Web site and get information about it.

KING:, that’s Jazz at Lincoln Center dot org.

MARSALIS: Right, but I want to — I want to say to the American people, it’s important to understand that this is a very profound moment in our history and it’s important for us to realize that our political leadership is not reflecting the will and the feelings of the American people. As a musician I’ve been around the country, around the Untied States of America for 25 years touring and representing the city of New Orleans and our country, also, around the world. I’ve been at the tables of Americans all over our country, Iowa, Minnesota, Alaska, I don’t care what state you want to name, we have been there swinging, teaching people’s kids, and doing other things. And I have to tell you that I know as people around our country of all hues look at these images and here these people talk, they will understand that these are beautiful people.

KING: Yeah.

MARSALIS: And there’s nothing to fear. So the whole history and legacy we had for polarization, using race and other issues, pointing fingers at each other, this was at the root of slavery, it was argued when the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence was being established, the Civil War, it was at the center of that, the Civil Rights movement. We’ve had a whole legacy of these things. It’s time for us to dig down into our souls…


MARSALIS: And realize that this is the time…


MARSALIS: For us to redefine American greatness.

KING: We’re running out of time. Can you play something out for us?

MARSALIS: I’m going to play something form New Orleans. KING: Yeah, that’s…

MARSALIS: The first is called “St. James Infirmary.”

KING: I know it.

MARSALIS: OK. The other is “Down by the Riverside.”


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  1. Shaun,
    I do believe that this is an example of classic Larry King. He loves the sound bites! Honestly, people are always astounded by what comes out of Wynton’s mouth. He is grossly opinionated and smart. I really do not think that people understand the depth of his intelligence. Wynton Marsalis’ role models are of strong, independent thinking individuals. Sometimes people are not comfortable having a Black man speak his mind well. At times we all are unfortunately comfortable with stereotypes of race, ethnicity, or entertainers.


    Danielle on Aug 3rd, 2006 at 5:50pm

  2. Yea,
    That’s an interesting and very descriptive phrase; “cultural intelligence” I’d never heard it used before. I remember watching that interview on CNN from here in Scotland, and I for one don’t feel the transcript conveys the feel of the interview. I got the distinct impression that Larry King initially was quite happy to talk to Wynton Marsalis all day, until that is, Marsalis started getting political, immediately the mood and body language changed, and King couldn’t get Marsalis off quick enough, suddenly it was like ‘you’re a musician – don’t do politics – put that trumpet to your mouth’ and stop talking’.
    Am I being unfair to Larry King/CNN? did anyone else see it?
    Maybe I’m too cynical, what did others think?

    Keep up the good work,

    Shaun Craig

    shaun craig on Jul 31st, 2006 at 4:38am