One more lesson from Marsalis: masterclass at Onondaga Community College

Wynton Marsalis shared so many insights during his visit to OCC on Tuesday morning that even after yesterday’s Listen Up item and today’s story in The Post-Standard, I have one more observation jumping out of my notebook.

During a question-and-answer session, a student asked Marsalis about his feelings concerning music today.

Marsalis, who titled his latest CD “From the Plantation to the Penetentiary,” replied that he’s worried about how the establishment pulling the strings that make today’s youth culture dance are doing plenty of harm.

“The popular music in the United States has steadily gotten worse since the 1950s,” Marsalis said. “One major thing that creates that is the belief of a youth culture.

“It’s being sold to them. Believe me, people have been having sex as long as we’ve been here,” he said. “How you negotiate that terrain is a lot different. … There’s pornography. … Why do you want to bring 11- or 12-year-olds into that?”

He said the marketers want the youth of America to think they know it all, so that they can get the kids to spend their money on grown-up products.

“Music can only get worse with that premise,” Marsalis said. “Young people know far less than any group of society. … It’s went from professional musicians to semi-professional musicians to non-musicians.”

He explains that the timeline traveled from men like Duke Ellington, who toured the world making music with his instrument, to James Brown, who fascinated the world with his energy as much as his vocals, to today’s rappers, who talk instead of sing and don’t play any instruments.

“And they say ’50 million sold. The young people like this.’ Young people don’t know what they like,” Marsalis said. “Somebody is exploiting them with marking trends. And the result of it is nobody can play.”

by Mark Bialczak

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  1. Wynton perfectly demonstrates the healing power of music within one technical exercise. As a musician becomes more proficient in his/her instrument it is increasingly clear the basics aren’t so “basic.” The love of music transcends circumstance, connecting generations together and providing motivation when times get tough.

    gloria on Mar 31st, 2007 at 10:36pm

  2. Dear Sonalii,
    you are perfectly true !

    You wrote this comment while i was listening to Wynton playing Stardust (Live at Village Vanguard – Disc 5)….and it was a wonderful emotion listening to the music and reading your message.

    Luigi Beverelli on Mar 31st, 2007 at 4:45pm

  3. Wynton provides life lessons through the arts. Through instruction, criticism and praise, he provides insights that show just how valuable the arts are for day to day living.

    The slideshow presentation is excellent. Amazing shots of the orchestra performing. Michael truly captured the emotion of the orchestra at play beautifully.

    Sonalii on Mar 31st, 2007 at 8:37am

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