Wynton Marsalis trumpets the importance of classic jazz

Wynton Marsalis starts off with a simple, definitive statement: “I never use interviews to publicize myself. I like to keep my comments to the music,” he says by phone from his home in New York City. And that he does.

Marsalis doesn’t even mention the upcoming shows with his septet. Nor does he want to talk about his forthcoming book, “Sweet Swing Blues on the Road,” due to be published in December. Or his new compact disc of classical music, “The London Concert,” to be released Oct 24.

Instead, the 32-year-old jazz trumpeter-composer wants to talk about jazz – what he likes about it and what he doesn’t, where he thinks it has been and where it might be going, making an occasional side-trip into classical or rap.

For starters, he says the Wynton Marsalis Septet is about to break up. “We decided to wind it up at the end of the year,” he says. “We’ve been together for seven years now, and it’s time to move on and try different things.”

During his distinguished 12-year recording career, Marsalis has released discs with everything from the blues to mainstream jazz, traditional warhorses and classical pieces. Over that period, he has won eight Grammy Awards, six of them in various jazz categories and two for classical discs (including an astonishingly lucid interpretation of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto).

“Classical music and jazz are similar in various ways,” he says. ‘There is a large canon of music in both from which to choose. And both, at their best, speak to people at a very high level. It is a combination of sophistication and sound that really moves people.”

Though he says he “can listen to any music,” there are several lines Marsalis draws: He prefers his jazz straight, with no chasers – no rock, pop, fusion or funk and none of the free-form loft stuff from the fringe.

“Jazz musicians are making the same mistakes that the classical musicians made,” he says. “They’ve accepted an intellectually impoverished point of view that really demands continual innovation for its own sake. Like modern European classical music, their jazz has become abstract and pessimistic. They think that what they have to express is too good for the public. They are really anti-public, in a way. “What they don’t realize is that this way of doing things is counterproductive. The whole point of jazz is that negativity can be overcome by swing, by music that touches people.”

by: Harry Sumrall
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times

« Previous Entry

Next Entry »