This young guy is good!

Wynton Marsalis

We have such a rich jazz music history here in the U.S. Going back years there have been some fascinating musicians showcasing their talents and we are fortunate to have recordings of great performances. It was special for me growing up with my father who was a professional jazz musician himself. After I played a couple of years in the jazz ensemble in college, my father and I really had a lot more in common. Oh how I enjoyed talking with him about jazz musicians and their capabilities. One musician he really loved was Wynton Marsalis. Wynton was just a few years older than I was at the time (I guess early twenties). I remember my dad saying, “This young guy is real good”. Of course, I had my own favorites and really did not listen to Marsalis much mostly because I felt he was too young. One thing my dad took notice of was Marsalis’ wish to educate his audience about jazz history. Not too many young musicians take on the task of educating their audiences. Most just, want to entertain and hope to make money doing so. Recently I was reading about Marsalis’ tour of Europe with JLCO (Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra). You can tell that he is having fun just playing music primarily because the crowds are really enjoying the music and the jazz history dispensed in between. As for me, you may want to know how I feel about Marsalis today. Well, I consider him one of our true treasures within the music industry. He is an artist and a scholar of jazz music. When did it all change for me? Several years ago, many of you might remember the Boston Pops Orchestra who performed each week on PBS. They invited many popular musicians and displayed their talents with the backing of a symphony orchestra. With one of my all-time favorites John Williams conducting, the concerts were sensational. One week the show featured two other favorites: Sarah Vaughn and Wynton Marsalis. Sarah always performed brilliantly, so I enjoyed her segment a great deal. However, Marsalis had a couple of segments. He first performed several classical pieces for solo trumpet, which he concluded with the Carnival of Venice Suite. (Trumpet players know this piece well because it is an instruction staple) As for Marsalis, he went on to put on a trumpet clinic. I never heard Carnival of Venice played with such technique. Then he performed jazz standards with Sarah Vaughn. Wow! Talk about your crossovers. This young guy was real good and playing the way I could only dream of playing. He is one of my jazz heroes!

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