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March 11, 1983 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-03-11
This is a tabloid page

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some bullshit that they can just play."
Marsalis does not, of course, dispute
Perlman's mastery of his instrument.,
But, he asks, "If you are dedicated to a
certain level in one field of music, why
would you go into another field and not
be dedicated to that level?"
"And what's even worse," he con-
tinues, "Why would the critics on that
level not cut you down for that? A good
jazz musician could never do that in
classical music. It's a double standard
which is not right."
There is some concern on Marsalis'
part, however, that his remarks may be
taken the wrong way. "People are
going to say that I'm arrogant and out-
spoken, right? But it's not about being
arrogant or outspoken. It's just about a
doing the right thing," he says. "A lot of
people get offended by my telling them
the truth."
His success as a classical musician
has surprised many listeners who are
unused to hearing black artists perfor-
ming the works of Haydn, Wagner, and
Copl/and. Black classical musicians
have long faced opposition from white
audiences. The famed conductor Leop-
old Stowkowski once told a young Ron
Carter that although the bassist was
talented enough to play with his Texas-
based orchestra, Stowkowski couldn't
hire him because he was black. Soon
thereafter, Carter switched to jazz.
The problem, however, extends
beyond the classical realm, according
to Marsalis. "The main obstacle is
(that) you can't make money because
you're black and because it's jazz," he
Other musicians say a lack of ex-
posure and recognition for black artists
is the problem. "I think positive images
of black people are just suppressed,"
says quintet drummer Jeff Watts. "So
is (the late pianist) Theolonius Monk
dies, they flash a little picture of him on
the ABC nightly news. They didn't even
have any of his music playing when it
came on the air. It was like 'Sorry he's
dead, and he was a musician.' "
The odds are stacked against jazz
musicians. Openings for concert and

even club gigs have declined in recent
years and, as Marsalis observes, "You
can't make money on jazz records."
Financial hardships, however, are
nothing new. "I don't know when the
good times were for jazz musicians,"
says Watts.
Possibly more disturbing than the
shortage of monetary support is the
lack of mainstream popularity.
Although jazz music is steeped in
American heritage, its reception in
recent years has been disappointing.
Bowler points out the lack of media
attention: "The whole process of
awareness about the art form is really
negligent in American press. I would
say that the exposure level is prac-
tically nil in the black community and
the white community, as well."
Part of the blame must fall on record
companies who are more concerned
about commercial potential than artistic
quality, says Marsalis. He also cites the
competition with popular music. "I
think the music just left the people
behind, that's all," he says. "It just
sounds too foreign with everything
He doesn't think, however, that the
music is too complex for today's
listeners. "I think the music (jazz) is
accessible if it's swinging. I think your
only responsibility is to swing.
Everything is accessible if you listen to,
it," he says.
At live concerts, Marsalis makes sure
the quintet swings. Impeccably dressed
in sharp suits, the group's appearances
are often marked by impromptu
changes. "The audience can expect ex-
citement and a lot of surprises. Every
time we play the music it's different,"
says Bowler, "because each gig is dif-
Marsalis hopes to share his en-
thusiasm for jazz with other students
and fans of the music. He will be ap-
pearing at Schoolkids Records (523 E.
Liberty) at 2 p.m. today and will head
over to the Trotter House (1443
Washtenaw) where the entire quintet
will lead a jazz workshop at 4 p.m.

THE SOUND from the, speakers is
crisp and is swinging - Marsalis'
trumpet scars gracefully over difficult
passages in "Father Time," the
opening cut on Wynton Marsalis.
"Father Time" is one of three original
compositions on the album and shows,
like the other two, a creative, even
playful sense of rhythm, clear tone, and
constant movement.
On the album, Marsalis played with
two groups of musicians, one the Wyn-
ton Marsalis Quintet and the other
featuring the members of the Herbie
Hancock Quartet. Pianist Hancock -
roduced Marsalis' debut album and
contributed one composition (the
flowing "I'll be there when the Time is
Right"), as did bassist Ron Carter
(with the dancing "RJ"), and drummer
Tony Williams ("Sister Cheryl").
Despite the acclaim his first effort
received, Marsalis remains dissatisfied
with the final product. "You can't tell
how I sound on my album because I was
playing too close to the microphone
when they recorded it," he says.
Also,because the quintet had only
played together a short time, the
album had less of a group sound, accor-
ding to drummer Watts. "At the time of
the first album there wasn't a band,
there was just five different people that
were living in at least three different
places at that time that got together
and did a record and learned music on
the same day. It was like, 'Okay, we're
going to do this tune,' then write it down
a couple times and then roll the tape
and on to the next tune."
The group is happier with the
new album coming out in May. Says
Watts, "Now the group's been playing a
lot and we have a little bit more of a
Marsalis agrees the band has become
a more cohesive unit and that the music
is more advanced. "On this album the
tunes cover a much broader spectrum;
the band sounds much tighter, swings
much harder," he says of the still-
untitled release. "The tunes are much
harder to play (because) the concepts
are much more advanced."
The album, due out in May, features
three Marsalis originals, a slower song
written by pianist Kirkland,
Thelononius Monk's "Think of One,"
and a classic Duke Ellington tune,
The Wynton Marsalis Quintet has
evolved into much more than just a
superb trumpet. And reminds the man
who plays that trumpet, "It's not the
Wynton Marsalis show."
The group boasts four other young
talented musicians, . each of whom
makes a unique contribution toward the
quintet's sound. Marsalis' older
brother, the 22-year-old Branford, is an
acclaimed saxophonist in his own right.
His work on Wynton's debut album and
elsewhere has landed Branford a CBS
recording contract, and he has ex-
pressed a desire to form his own quin-
The brothers, though they are very
different, have no problem working and
performing together, says drummer
Watts. "There's no one more com-
patible for Wynton than him (Bran-
Wynton probably appreciates his
brother's abilities more than anyone
else. "He contributes a lot to. the
arrangement," says the, trumpeter.
"He can hear real well. He has good
Pianist Kenny Kirkland is another
quintet member who is gaining
notoriety outside the group. "He's
great; he's the baddest cat they have in
New York on piano, period. We call him
the doctor because he knows
everything," says Marsalis. "He knows,

how to put ti
Kirkland n
brother in 11
together for t
bia all-star C
joining the q
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formed classi
a full-time
studying at t
Drummer J
Branford befo
salis. Born
cussionist got
through the i
wanted to pl
school where
too many trur
"So they told
the right teeth
trumpet playe
Watts got
listening to re
amaze you i
you'll find y
looking for oi
with bassist I
linking up wit
Though th
together for a
his role in the
"I'm the drur
drums, I can
or I can orche
exactly what I
ahile because
the music we'
take a while."
Bassist Ph
recent additic
when Clarence
the first albu
Rahsaan Rola
Woogie String
also played
Leone Thomas
One Sunda
Bowler receiv
asking him to
the next day. I
benefits of su
this day there
trying to shoot
The combin
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Marsalis has a
wants, but is
side contribut
make commer
he's open to e
ts as well," sa
"The three
ny-each prov
ds Watts. "The
ferent behind e
throws someth
it out, and the
we just det
What lies ah
salis Quintet?
"Wynton sou
because he's a
ching. It gives
things to work
"A lot of differ
just to spell W
what he's goin
very logical an
The abandor
many years,
"Until I get go
and his search
in its infancy.
quality and a s
upon, Wynton
something wor
Ben Tich

2 Weekend/March 41, 19838

A 5Mw

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