Wynton Marsalis teaches Wellington kids a lesson in jazz
“Be a No 1 yourself, and not a No 2 somebody else,” 750 schoolchildren shout back to jazz great Wynton Marsalis.
The winner of nine Grammy Awards reminds the group what they’ve learned in the past hour. “Generosity of spirit, having good manners, learning to listen … don’t let limitations limit you,” he says.
Marsalis is the artistic director at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, which is in Wellington to perform to a sell-out crowd as part of the New Zealand Arts Festival.
The musicians from the centre also have another aim – to educate young ones on the importance of jazz.
Marsalis describes different instruments in the jazz ensemble, while the musicians provide demonstrations.
He talks about the way Duke Ellington wrote Mood Indigo and how the different instruments were like paint, coming together to create the final product.
Different jazz devices used by the great Ellington were also showcased, while the charismatic Marsalis had the children laughing as he used inventive ways to describe methods like repetition in jazz.
Within the crowd at the Michael Fowler Centre on Friday was a group of 100 children given the opportunity to hear Marsalis thanks to sponsorship from Carrus Corporation.
The children from Porirua had come from a number of different schools, and were selected by the schools themselves to go along.
Taylor Crichton, Alysia Tekeu and Liza Vaea were from Tairangi School in Porirua. All three were chosen to see Jazz for Young People because they’re involved in music and stage performance.
They said they found the hour inspirational. Taylor, 11, hadn’t heard jazz before but thought the performance was “pretty cool”.
“I didn’t know what to expect, I just wanted to be surprised, to see what it was like.”
All three appreciated the messages Marsalis had passed on during the session.
“It was inspiring … being yourself is the most important key in life, instead of trying to be someone else,” Alysia said.
The New Zealand Festival has released an extra 100 $49 tickets to see Jazz at Lincoln Centre on Saturday night. The seats are in the choir stalls at the Michael Fowler Centre.
by Laura Dooney