Nine-time Grammy winner, Wynton Marsalis, shares his lifelong connection to Jazz music

The love of Jazz started for Wynton Marsalis growing up in New Orleans, watching his father play with some of the great music legends.

“My father he struggled a lot,” Marsalis said. “The 17 years that I lived at home it was always a struggle.”

Yet, he chose to still pursue the same path.

“I asked my father what should I do, he said, ‘don’t have nothing to fall back on,’ and I’m like you struggled through this and that’s still your advice,” he remembered. “So I had to take it. It was kind of funny, but some of us in this generation, we get the benefit of the work that they did.”

And the rest is, well, you know the saying. He headed to Julliard at 17 and then joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He’s made more than 60 Jazz and Classical recording and has won nine Grammy Awards.

“Just to be able to be a part of this and play with great musicians and be part of jazz at Lincoln center, it’s not even something I could have imagined,” he said, humbly.

Now, a music legend in his own right, Marsalis is the Artistic Director of Jazz and Lincoln Center and is passionate about his role.

“We in the House of Swing have a symbolic presence, when we were building, people would come up and say, you are never going to keep this open, that was over 10 years ago,” he said. “It’s a spiritual thing because we are all about the soul of our country, you always hear about the commercialism, we have been allowed to flourish, and thrive with a message of quality. We are about no segregation, no generation gap, and all of our music is modern and we have been about that from the beginning.”

Something else happening early? Getting kids involved, another lesson Marsalis learned from his dad.

“When I was growing up my father was a phenomenal teacher, it would be me, my brother, Harry Connick and Terry Blanchard,” Marsalis remembered. “He was very engaged, had a lot of integrity about the music, very philosophical. He is not emotional or hug on you, he is old school, a lot of the stuff I’m teaching I heard him do I just carry it on.”

They help millions of kids each year, through the web, their Jazz Academy and we have a high school Jazz competition in its 22nd year.

“I am so proud of what we have accomplished and developed here because it has truly been a community event,” he said.

by James Ford and Rebecca Millman
Source: PIX11 TV

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