Wynton Marsalis and his Quintet perform at Wyoming Seminary Friday

The Wynton Marsalis Quintet (photo: Luigi Beverelli)

One of the greatest living jazz composers and musicians is bringing his renowned performance reputation and his positive message to the Wyoming Valley.

Wynton Marsalis and his Quintet performs at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11 at Wyoming Seminary’s Kirby Center for Creative Arts. Marsalis, the managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and its orchestra, is an advocate for expanding a global community through jazz education, and his quintet tours with the same mission.

“Any profound discipline is something worth investigating for any person … whether it’s writing, playing music, martial arts, acting, painting, dancing,” quintet saxophonist Walter Blanding said. “Profound disciplines give us so much more than can be described within the discipline itself.”

Blanding, a member of Marsalis’ quintet for 10 years and a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra since 1998, said he believes jazz music offers something unique among these disciplines.

“In particular, jazz music, I think, is special, because jazz is based on improvisation, and the skills we need to develop spontaneously and make it sound good and be harmonious within the concept of western music means we have to practice our instruments, know about music theory, have an understanding of the history of the music we’re playing, and we have to develop skills to be able to manage communicating through the music spontaneously with lightning-speed instinct.”

Blanding, who has toured the world with acts like Cab Calloway and the Harper Brothers, was honored as a “Jazz Ambassador to Israel” by Newsweek International after teaching in several Israeli schools and opening his own private school in Tel Aviv.

Passing on culture and knowledge to future generations, Blanding said, is of the utmost importance. Jazz music, he said, can teach people self-awareness, sensitivity and problem solving among other skills.

Through studying music “we become more profoundly connected with each other,” Blanding said. “We become creative people. It helps children learn to think outside of the box. These types of skills are necessary for being a more important part of society, making decisions that will help make this world a better place to live in.”

Wyoming Seminary associate director of communications Gail Smallwood called hosting the quintet “thrilling.”

“This is a rare opportunity for our students to interact with and learn from the giants of jazz, and for all the jazz fans in Northeastern Pennsylvania, it’s a not-to-be-missed chance to hear outstanding artists who have performed all over the country and the world.”

Marsalis and his Quintet, Blanding said, come to Wyoming Seminary to demonstrate the power of people playing music together and sharing that experience with the audience, displaying how the dynamics of jazz can work for anyone who works in a group.

“Wynton always says, ‘jazz is like a democracy,’” Blanding said. “You watch people in a group play, particularly this quintet, and you see how there is an open forum. Wynton is the leader, and he ultimately decides what’s going on, but within that everyone has the freedom to make choices too.”

“Within that freedom comes the responsibility of making choices that are respectful in that you’re saying, ‘Here I am, and I’m important, but I’m not the only one, and I’m part of a group.”ù

by Matt Mattei
Source: Times Leader

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