Wynton talks about the new cd: From the Plantation to the Penitentiary

Wynton is recording in studio during these days. This is a text of an interview that he gave to Associated Press about his new CD:

On Wynton Marsalis’ upcoming CD, he criticizes political leadership in America, cultural corruption, and sex and violence in rap, and that’s just on one song.

“I don’t speak from outside, I’m not finger-pointing. I’m a part of it, I’m speaking from inside of our culture,” Marsalis said. “We’re not taking a moralistic view. It’s not, ‘Let me tell y’all how I’m different from you.’ It’s a comment on our way of life and our culture.”

From the Plantation to the Penitentiary is due out March 6. Marsalis calls it his most political album in years.

“It’s been in my mind for a while. Every decade I like to do one piece that has that kind of social involvement with American culture,” he said.

But a look at some of the lyrics shows Marsalis is disenchanted with that culture. “The Return of Romance” appears to take rappers to task, accusing them of being modern-day minstrels with “song-less tunes”; “Super Capitalism” chastises those obsessed with materialistic goals; and “Where Y’all At,” among other things, criticizes ’60s radicals and idealists who have lost their revolutionary slant.

“Where Y’all At” is notable because it features Marsalis as the vocalist, delivering a sort of rap chant.

“I always try and do something different. I don’t try to make any of my records the same,” he said. “I’m always singing and chanting all over my house. I grew up doing it in New Orleans, chanting and singing and making up rhymes; long before there was rap music we were doing that. That’s the New Orleans’ way.”

Though the album has its pointed moments, Marsalis isn’t completely pessimistic about American culture. He noted the outpouring of support from citizens nationwide after Hurricane Katrina as an example of what people can do when they are aware of a problem.

“That’s the one thing the Katrina episode taught us about America. Americans can be moved to do things when they have good information, honest information. People are more serious, people do want to participate in things,” he said.

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  1. Wynton,
    Thanks for making a statement that is most relevant to today’s youth. You are a brilliant composer and musician and I am sure you will reach those who are conscious and thinking about such strong political views that relate to the plantation to the penitentiary. You have opened up a wound that needs to be healed in todays society and I complement you for that.

    Aida Praise on Dec 10th, 2006 at 5:51am