[INTERVIEW] Wynton Marsalis:<br />
Jazz Messenger

Wynton Marsalis

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that we always played on. Willie Nelson, he’s from Texas…[We’re saying] what if we bring musicians from another art form into the feeling of our art, instead of always us always going into their art?

EBONY: That said, will we ever see you play with young musicians like Robert Glasper?

WM:  Oh yeah. Robert Glasper can play! We just played with him at Martha’s Vineyard. I taught a lot of those musicians when they were in high school...And Robert Glasper is not that young [laughs]. He was in high school more than fifteen years ago. Not to make a comment that can be misconstrued as negative about him, because I never talk bad about the musicians that are younger than me. They make the choices that they make to deal with the environment the way they see fit – they're in a rough environment.

We have personal relationships and we play. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to embrace hip-hop. I will never do that, ever! But does that actually make a difference? They’re not going to stop playing that music because [I don’t play it]. That’s the beauty of democracy [laughs]. They’re going to do their thing, regardless of what anybody else thinks about it – and they should.

EBONY: What are some of the highlights of the upcoming JALC season?

WM: John Lewis, Gerry Mulligan and the Birth of the Cool; a Blue Note Festival, Bird and Diz’s music; a Duke Ellington Festival, John Coltrane, and [Marsalis’ Pulitzer Prize winning Oratorio] Blood on the Fields. We’re opening our season with Bobby McFerrin.

EBONY: When JALC was formed the Internet didn’t exist. How are you going use social media to expose people to jazz?

WM: We’re going to make our content more available. We’re working on those things now. For us, the next five to ten years is dedicated to projecting our mission: in getting on as many screens as we can get on...we can only put out the highest quality we can. That’s what we’re going to do.