Wynton Marsalis


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

Author Quotes

A sense of loss, a great and deep loss.

Ethics are more important than laws.

I didn't have a philosophical understanding of music until I came to New York. I didn't understand how it applied to my kind and my generation. I thought it was just old people talking.

I noticed that religion gave some people a way to escape dealing with the world: Things will be better when you die, the people of my grandma?s generation said as they worked themselves to death. God wants you to forgive and love those who do you wrong, some people said to shake off the shame of being unable to respond to the abuse they endured. The holier-than-thou faction found comfort in believing, The rest of y?all are lost because you don?t have a personal relationship with God?our God. But art engages you in the world, not just the world around you but the big world, and not just the big world of Tokyo and Sydney and Johannesburg, but the bigger world of ideas and concepts and feelings of history and humanity.

I'm not afraid of you being yourself. That's America.

It's important to address young people in the reopening of New Orleans. In rebuilding, let's revisit the potential of American democracy and American glory.

Let's get them working because they will stimulate the economy. They'll give people something to come back and see.

My thing is, once you start to put a backbeat on your music or something that has a machine in it, you have popularity, but you lose the flexibility. And you lose a richness.

Swing is about people, it's not about numerical relationships.

The majority of the high schools and the public schools in N.Y.C. don't even have band programs. Hip-hop in a lot of ways is an outgrowth of a lack of instruments and a desire to play music, so we can't really fault the kids for that.

There's so much spirit of integration and democracy in jazz.

Try to find the best teachers, listen to the finest playing, and try to emulate that. Be true to the music.

When I auditioned for my high school band the band director was excited because my father was known to be a great musician. When he heard me, he said 'Are you sure you're Ellis's son?

And that's the soulful thing about playing: you offer something to somebody. You don't know if they'll like it, but you offer it.

Even in these times, there are still neighbors that will turn their backs on neighbors.

I didn't want to get that ring around my lips from practicing the trumpet, because I thought the girls wouldn't like me. So I never practiced.

I play piano and drums very poorly and French horn and tuba all equally as bad.

Imagination, Understanding, My Imagination

It's like seeing something very scary to you, and there's nothing you can do about it. It's very moving... New Orleans is like the soul of our country, so we have to help.

Louis Armstrong is jazz. He represents what the music is all about.

New Orleans - the real New Orleans - is the soul of the country.

Swing is extreme coordination. It's a maintaining balance, equilibrium. It's about executing very difficult rhythms with a panache and a feeling in the context of very strict time. So, everything about the swing is about some guideline and some grid and the elegant way that you negotiate your way through that grid.

The most prized possession in this music is your own unique sound. Through sound, jazz leads you to the core of yourself and says Express that. Through jazz, we learn that people are never all one way. Each musician has strengths and weaknesses. We enjoy hearing musicians struggle with their parts, and if we go one step further and learn to accept the strong and weak parts of people around us and of ourselves, life comes at us much more easily. A judge has a hard time out here.

There's the tradition in jazz of having the Battle of the Bands, and you do not want to get your head cut when you're playing.

We always hear about the rights of democracy, but the major responsibility of it is participation.

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Birth Date

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