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March 11, 1983 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-03-11
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Wynton Marsalis: Doing right by jazz

Wynton
from 1
for the best, jazz instrumental perfor-
mance by a soloist. Also that year, the
Downbeat magazine Readers Poll
named Marsalis Jazz Musician of the
Year and voted Wynton Marsalis Jazz
Album of the Year.
The praise for Marsalis, however, is
by no means limited to listeners. No
less an artist than bassist Ron Carter, a
veteran of Miles Davis' band, has
described Marsalis as "the most
remarkable musician to appear on the
scene in some time. He itsintelligent,
witty, studious, down to earth, and an
incredible player." Ann Arborites will
get a chance to hear what Carter was
describing when the Wynton Marsalis
Quintet, completed by Wynton's
brother Branford, pianist Kenny
Kirkland, bassist Phil Bowler, and
drummer Jeff Watts, performs in the
Power Center tonight at 8 p.m.
At a time when many jazz musicians
seem to have lost the progressive
feeling that marked the work of Charlie
"Bird" Parker in the '50s and John
Coltrane and Miles Davis in the early
'60s, Marsalis remains refreshingly
true to his art form.
Many current jazz musicians are too
intent on finding new sounds. Others
are content to retread old styles or
resort to "safe" pop-jazz hybrids. But
Marsalis respects the tradition his
musicstens from and makes a point of
performing older music.
"What I'm trying to do now is bring
the music back to where it was, but I'm
not trying to go back there and play that
music, because that's impossible," he
says, who often rearranges older
works. "I'm trying to play what I play
now, based on what the other cats
played. My job is a lot harder than the
job of the cats in the '60s was, because
when they came up, the vibe of playing
was in the air. When I came up, nobody
was really trying to play."
Marsalis doesn't hesitate to cite his
many influences, proudly listing Ornet-

te Coleman, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats
Navarro, Clifford Brown, Clark Terry,
and Louis Armstrong, to name a few. "I
try to imitate everybody-anything
that I like, I try to imitate," he says.
Marsalis himself comes from a
notably jazz background. His father,
Ellis Marsalis, is a well-known pianist
who played the New Orleans jazz cir-
cuit during the '50s and early '60s.
Branford Marsalis, Wynton's older
brother, is an adept saxophonist and an
integral part of the Wynton Marsalis
Quintet.
Wynton received his first trumpet

Orleans Civic Orchestra, winning the
Most Outstanding Musician Award at
the Eastern Music Festival (in North
Carolina) in 1977. He was a soloist with
the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra
the following year and the summer af-
ter finishing high school, he studied at
the Tanglewood Music Festival where
he was named the Outstanding Brass
Player.
In 1979, Marsalis entered the Julliard
School of Music in New York where he
increased his knowledge of musical
theory and sought out new teachers. He
seems, however, disappointed by the

During the summer of 1981, he toured
with the Herbie Hancock Quartet,
which featured pianist Hancock, Ron
Carter, and percussionist Tony
Williams. In the summer of 1981, he
toured with the Herbie Hancock Quar-
tet, which featured pianist Hancock,
Ron Carter, and percussionist Tony
Williams. In the summer of 1982 Mar-
salis was one of the many all-star
musicians playing in KOOL jazz
festival across the nation. Last fall
another album, Fathers and Sons,
featuring Wynton, Branford, and Ellis
Marsalis, as well as saxophonists Chico
Freeman and his father Von, demon-
strated the continuity of jazz.
Audiences, and fellow musicians
alike marvel at the sheer technical
ability Marsalis has displayed at both
live performances and in the recording
studio. "His range on the trumpet is one
of the best I've ever heard, top to bot-
tom," says quintet bassist Phil Bowler.
Echoes Kenny Kirkland, the quintet's
fine pianist, "I don't think other trum-
pet players have the control that he
has."
Marsalis denies the popular notion
that too much technique can get in the
way of musical expression. "If you
have soul, you're going to have it
anyway. The more technique you have,
that's not going to keep you from being
soulful. It might intimidate more
people ... It's going to make you miss
more notes maybe, but that's not
soulful or unsoulful," he says.
There's no secret to learning how to
play an instrument, says Marsalis.
"It's just a matter of practicing and
having something to say. You don't
learn from a book. You just read them
and then you look up in your mind what
you want from it."
Although he constantly seeks more
knowledge about his art from others,
Marsalis says it is up to an artist to
develop musically. "You are the only
one that can teach yourself-it's just
like learning how to drive."
"What made Charlie Parker who he
was?" he asks. "It wasn't the fact that
someone taught him how to play and he
had fnaybe 50 teachers. But he was
Charlie Parker. He could look out and
see what was going on, understand it,
and express it in music with very little
hassle."
M ARSALIS' EXTENSIVE ex-
experience with classical music
makes him one of the few truly suc-
cessful "crossover" artists. He recen-
tly recorded Joseph Haydn's Trumpet
Concerto with the National Chamber
Orchestra of London (Raymond Lep-
pard conducting) for an album to be
released concurrently with a new jazz
album in May. (Marsalis hopes to
arrange a classical tour soon).
Something extra went into the Haydn
recording and Marsalis is proud of it.
He even says it's better than his debut
jazz album. "When I crossed over to
play classical music I studied that
music for a long time, and I respected
the music, and I realized how much
work I had to do to make a good album.
I did a classical record of classical
music played like the composer wanted
it to be played."
Because Marsalis appreciates all
music and is so diligent in his own craft,
he resents classical musicians who
seem to take jazz lightly. As an exam-
ple, he cites a recent jazz album made
by the famed classical violinist Itzhak
Perlman.
"I don't mind Itzhak Perlman loving
jazz. I don't even mind him putting out
a jazz album. That's great," he says.
"But what I don't like is his attitude in
calling the album It's A Breeze. What I
don't like is the attitude 'Let's have
some fun and play some jazz,' like it's

COVER STORY-
Horn of plenty

Page 1

Swing. That's the main ingredient in the music of
Wynton Marsalis, student and performer of fine jazz.
The 21-year old trumpet player has plenty to say
about musical traditions-classical as well as
jazz-but it's the crystalline sound of his instrument
that will bring crowds to his Power Center perfor-
mance tonight. Cover photo by Marc Karzen.
THEATER.
Loaded Page 4
The year is 1913. Panic in Calumet's Italian Hall
kills 74. And thus the stage is set for Performance
Network's latest production, The Mother Lode, as
two reporters investigate the tragedy. Over on Main
Street, Lunch Hour attracts after-dinner audiences
with a comedic exploration of modern marriages.
MUSIC______________ ______
Cult heroes Page 5
Not another Krishna's performance-the cult in
town is none other than the Blue Oyster gang. BOC
will tempt the reaper over at Hill Auditorium
tomorrow night; catch the gospel according to
oysters. On Wednesday, Hill hosts Sejii Ozawa and
his renowned Boston Symphony for a string of
classical hits.

Jazz electricity fills the air when you're tuned to
one of these three area radio stations. But are they
too conservative in their selections? And are there
enough listeners? Answers to these and other
questions in this week's feature.
THE LIST

RADIO
Radio Radio

Happenings

Pages 7-10

Your guide to fun times for the coming week in Ann
Arbor. Film capsules, music previews, theater notes,
and bar dates, all listed in a handy-dandy, day-by-day
schedule. Plus a roster of local restaurants.
RESTAURANTS
Rabbi Guido's Page 11
What is this, a Kosher version of Italian food-or is
it an Italian attempt at the delicious delights of a
Kosher deli? Find out with this week's review of the
newest eatery in town, Rabbi Guido's

Club soda

Ann Arbor outlets I
number, but there are
jazz tradition. Wheth
Thursday, or Del Rio o
swinging sound.

'I think the music is accessible if it's
swinging ... Your only responsibility is to
swing. Everything is accessible if you listen
to it.'
-Wynton Marsalis,
student of jazz

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Page 6

DISCS
Jazz tracks
Henry Threadgill, ID
cock are all at the for(
has his own individua
album, each of which g
BANDS
Insert jazz
The Inserts are a i
prised of a lawyer, a
guys put in plenty c
special brand of avant
FEATURES

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Fridoy, Morch 11,.1983 staff of The Michigan Daily at 420 Maynard, Ann Ar- Daily, 764-0552; Circul
Vol. I, Issue 18
Magazine Editor ..................Ben Ticho bor, Michigan, 48109. It appears in the Friday edition tising, 764-0554.
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from trumpeter Al Hirt when he was
six, but real interest didn't develop un-
til he was twelve. Marsalis says he
wasn't pushed to practice. "My parents
let me do what I wanted to, but I wanted
to do it (practice) so it didn't make a
difference."
He learned mostly by trying to
imitate what he heard on records and
by seeking out as many mentors as
possible. "When I was in high school I
used to look up teachers to study with,"
he remembers. "(I'd) call and ask if
they'd give me a lesson. I try to study
with anybody I can. I learned a lot from
students that I went to school with."
Although his first interest was alwaysw
jazz, Marsalis studied classical music
for years, partially to dispel the myth of
"the big monster on the other side of
the mountain," as he calls it.
While still in high school, Marsalis
played first trumpet with the New

Julliard experience. "I didn't like
(Julliard) that much. I had some good
teachers, just the students were real
stuck up."
On a break from school, Marsalis
joined the pit orchestra of the musical
Sweeney Todd on Broadway. A short
time later, he joined master drummer
Art Blakey and his group, the Jazz
Messengers. Marsalis' unintimidated
work on tour with Blakely reminded
many listeners of another Jazz
Messenger alumnus, the late trumpet
player Clifford Brown.
By this time the word was out. Mar-
salis appeared on several Art Blakey
recordings. Later, CBS signed the
trumpet player to his own recording
contract, one which stipulated that his
second album be a classical recording.
"They (CBS) weren't crazy about (the
idea), but now that the album's done,
they're alright," says Marsalis.

1r r

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