Wynton Marsalis’s Favorite Things

(Photo: Brian W. Ferry for WSJ Magazine)

“ONE OF MY MENTORS was Yacub Addy, a master Ghanaian drummer. He made the drum in front. When he gave it to me, he said that the sound of a drum is the soul of the drum, something I always remember. The blue book on the table, Autobiography of a Yogi, is one that my father gave me when I left home at 17. We had never talked about yoga or Eastern religion—I was just a country boy. But I read the book while I was on the bus and enjoyed it. My youngest son is a painter. That’s his work propped up on the book. His images have so much feeling in them.

The diamond cuff links are from a friend of mine. I’ve had them for a long time. I’m normally the kind of person who loses almost everything I get, especially anything fancy, but these are my good luck charms. In the ’80s and ’90s, I used to go to New Mexico every year. I got the bears to the left of the book from a shop there as a gift for my daughter. At the time, she was scared of ghosts, so I told her these bears keep them out. Since then she hasn’t seen any ghosts! The trumpet was a gift from my trumpet maker, Dave Monette, in the early ’90s. It’s full of all kinds of symbolism from my life at that time. It weighs about eight pounds.

A friend named Sam Berkow gave me the shofar after he finished refurbishing Central Synagogue, as a kind of memento. One night at my house, I asked the great trumpeter Lew Soloff whether he knew how to play it. He and I played the shofar back and forth for hours. The iron on the mantel is from my housekeeper, who brought it back from Honduras after Hurricane Sandy. We’d lost all electricity, and I’d been ironing my clothes with a heated pot. The Romare Bearden painting is one that he did for a record of mine, J Mood. I came to him with a drawing of what I wanted. He looked down at the drawing wondering if I was being disrespectful or stupid. Only after he looked up and saw my face did he realize that I was just stupid.”

by Thomas Gebremedhin
Source: Wall Street Journal

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