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Wynton Marsalis

Biography

Wynton Marsalis is the most important and influential jazz musician of the modern age. He is sometimes seen as a controversial figure because of his outspoken views on what jazz should be, what it isn't and how popular culture and modern society have both generally gone to hell in a hand basket. But for all of his talk (and he's a good talker), Marsalis is also a monumentally gifted trumpet player with a quicksilver musical mind and a pure tone that would have made him a jazz star in any decade. His many critics (usually boho noise-jazzers, aged rockers and diaper-wearing electronica types) tag him as being musically conservative, yet he constantly finds new avenues and styles to explore. This restless creative energy is both Marsalis' strength and one of his major weaknesses. Like Dave Brubeck (or Woody Allen wanting to make "serious" movies instead of comedies), Marsalis sometimes undercuts his own musical strengths in order to stretch himself artistically in just about every direction – classical music, extended orchestral jazz compositions, socio-political explorations, film composition and education. While not everything Marsalis has done has been equally successful, he rarely (if ever) takes the easy road and he brings unflagging energy (and often rarely acknowledged humor) to everything he does. His trumpet playing was hit hard by medical issues in the 2000s but even that didn't slow him down – he now leads the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra in addition to his many other projects. Marsalis comes from a family of New Orleans jazz musicians and his brother, Branford, is a brilliant saxophone player in his own right.
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