Wynton Marsalis


American Jazz and Classical Trumpet Virtuoso, Composer, Teacher, Music Educator and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC

Author Quotes

As a jazz musician, you have individual power to create the sound. You also have a responsibility to function in the context of other people who have that power also.

Generally, when I wake up in the morning I set out a series of problems for myself and I write them down, and when I'm sleeping, my mind solves the problems. When I wake up in the morning, I have more clarity on the issue.

I feel that for years of teaching in the country and reading criticism in books, I feel like the things most needed in our culture are the understanding of the meanings of our music. We haven't done that good of job teaching our kids what our music means or how we developed our taste in music that reminds us and teaches us who we are.

I think that the blues is in everything, so it's not possible to neglect it. You hear somebody go 'Ooh ooh oooh,' and that's the blues. You hear a rock n' roll song. That's the blues. Somebody playing a guitar solo? They're playing the blues.

In learning about a person, you learn something about the world and about yourself, and if you can handle what you learn, you can get closer, much closer to them.

Jazz also reminds you that you can work things out with other people. It?s hard, but it can be done. When a group of people try to invent something together, there?s bound to be a lot of conflict. Jazz urges you to accept the decisions of others. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow?but you can?t give up, no matter what. It is the art of negotiating change with style. The aim of every performance is to make something out of whatever happens?to make something together and be together.

Many a revolution started with the actions of a few. Only 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence. A few hanging together can lead a nation to change.

No way in the world that it's going to turn New Orleans into that.

The bandstand is a sacred place.

The only justification for looking down on anyone is that you're going to stop and pick them up.

This girl, about 14, came to see me and I said, 'What are you doing out so late?'

We really turned it into a jazz work... We did a lot of playing with - and off - the orchestra. But we were watching the conductor the whole time. We weren't just out there. We worked everything out in advance. ... We're very pleased with the way it turned out.

When people dress well, they play well.

As long as there is democracy, there will be people wanting to play jazz because nothing else will ever so perfectly capture the democratic process in sound. Jazz means working things out musically with other people. You have to listen to other musicians and play with them even if you don't agree with what they're playing. It teaches you the very opposite of racism and anti-Semitism. It teaches you that the world is big enough to accommodate us all.

Grace Kelly plays with intelligence, wit and feeling. She has a great amount of natural ability and the ability to adapt. That is the hallmark of a first-class jazz musician.

I generally work right up to when I have to do something - I'm always doing a lot.

I think that virtuosity is the first sign of morality in a musician. It means you're serious enough to practice.

In the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra we play such a diversity of music, with 10 arrangers in the band, we don't really worry about whether it's contemporary or not.

Jazz celebrates older generations and not just the youth movement. When you 'sell' only to people of a certain age, you get cut off from the main body of experience.

Many of our greatest musicians abandoned all of their aesthetic objectives to try to become pertinent. And, at the end of the day, they never became pop stars. I counter stated that very strongly, and I continue to do that.

Nothing else will ever capture the democratic process in sound as perfectly as Jazz.

The best musicians know this music isn't about schools at all. Like my father says, :There's only one school, the school of 'Can you play??

The real power of Jazz is that a group of people can come together and create improvised art and negotiate their agendas... and that negotiation is the art

This is one of the great cultural cities of the world. Through the music, New Orleans spoke to the soul of the nation. That's why this is a national crisis.

We want to concentrate on rebirth and rebuilding.

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American Jazz and Classical Trumpet Virtuoso, Composer, Teacher, Music Educator and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC