Trumpeting triumph: jazz to classical

Trumpet wunderkind Wynton Marsalis, the dapper New Orleans native who beat out the great Miles Davis in the 1982 Down Beat readers’ poll, is not content with the public and critical success of his debut album, released on Columbia last year.
This week the 21 year-old Marsalis simultaneously released two discs of widely disparate music – an album of throbbing, sassy Jazz and an album of classical trumpet concerti played the way an 18th century patrician would have loved.

I put out the albums primarily because I like the to kinds of musics,” said Marsalis, who, as a member of Herbie Hancock’s VSOP II, followed Davis Sunday at Avery Fisher Hall as part of the Kool Jazz Festival.

“I also did it so that people would become aware of the ignorance they have about the two musics,” he continued. “Most jazz musicians overrate classical music and think that it’s on a higher level than bass, drums and saxophones. And most classical people never listen to jazz; they Just put it down.”

ON THE CLASSICAL album (Columbia Master works), Marsalis plays Haydn’s Concerto in E Flat Major, Hummel’s Concerto in E Flat Major and Mozart’s Concerto in D Major with the National Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Raymond Leppard. Marsalis, whose recording contract calls for classical as well as jazz albums, said he chose music from the basic repertoire to establish his credibility in the classical arena.

“In jazz, if you can’t play bebop, then you can’t play.” Marsalis said “In classical music, you have to show that you can play music from the established repertoire if you want to be taken seriously.”

The Jazz album, “Think of One,” (Columbia) marks the recording debut of Marsalis’ own quintet, which includes his brother, Branford, 22, an accomplished saxophonist. (Their father, Ellis Marsalis, is a respected pianist in the New Orleans area.)
On “Think of One” Wynton applies his mercurial phrasing and velvety tone to three of his own works, as well as pieces by Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. It’s not striking that Marsalis can play different musics. Any technically assured hack can do that. Rather, it is that Marsalis inhabits both worlds with ease. His jazz tone has a fullness reminiscent of Miles Davis; his improvisations display a kaleidoscope of jazz history and influences ranging from the earthy New Orleans jazz of Louis Armstrong to the stratospheric whimsy of Dizzy Gillespie or the folksy mutterings of Don Cherry.

MARSALIS’ CLASSICAL tone is crystalline, just as it should be, and he delivers the polished melodies with feathery lightness. It was Just eight years ago that Marsalis, then 13, happened to hear a recording of a piccolo trumpet and become interested in classical music. (He had been given his first trumpet by Al Hirt, a friend of his father, when he was 6, but says he did not apply himself until he was 12.)

From 14 on, it was a series of prizes and accolades in New Orleans, beginning with his playing the Haydn Trumpet Concerto with the New Orleans Philharmonic.
Two years later, with the same orchestra, Marsalis performed Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 2 in F Major. All this time he was playing in jazz and funk bands.

After playing first trumpet in the New Orleans Civic Orchestra and attending the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood one summer – where he won an award for Outstanding Brass Player – Marsalis attended Juilliard until he was whisked up by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, where he received his first national recognition.

His first album, released last year on Columbia, became one of the best selling Jazz debut LPs in the company’s history. Plans include cutting another jazz and classical album later in the year and a possible national tour in early 1984, when Marsalis will perform works from the classic repertoire.

by Eric V. Copage
Source: New York Daily News

« Previous Entry

Next Entry »

Also of Interest