Talking with jazzman Wynton Marsalis
We met musician Wynton Marsalis while he was rehearsing with his band and singers for some upcoming musical dates. First we watched their amazing rehearsal, and then we sat down with him for a while.
Why did you decide to do the Jazz for Kids program?
Well, I have four kids. I love kids; I loved being a kid. My father was a band director and teacher so when I was a kid I was always around older people, and as I grew older I always loved to be around kids.
What do you like most about performing at Lincoln Center?
I like the fact that at Lincoln Center there's a lot of different art forms. There's opera, there's dance, there's the Juilliard School, there's a great public library here. There's the New York Philharmonic. You can hear the greatest orchestra in the world play. So I like the fact of all the different arts being in one place. It's like a mall for all arts.
Why did you choose jazz and not any other type of music to play?
I chose jazz because I'm from New Orleans and my father is a jazz musician. So I always grew up in clubs listening to people play. I loved the jazz musicians the way they were. They were always extremely cool with kids, too. They didn't talk to you in that crazy singsong voice, 'Oh how are you doing?' They always talked to you very normally, straight, and when I was maybe younger than you. When I was a little older than you, when I was 12, I was determined I wanted to play the music.
Were you in a music group or a band when you were younger?
I was in so many music groups when I was younger. I played in a marching band. We played for football games. I played in a pop folk band where we rehearsed in back of somebody's house. We played a lot of proms and dances, wedding receptions. I played in the New Orleans Symphony, just subbing, like whenever they needed a trumpet I would play that. I played in the brass quintet, just playing that kind of music. I played in church bands, I played the circus one time. Never play the circus. Leave the circus alone.
How do you describe jazz music to someone who has never heard of it before?
Jazz music is like a good conversation except it has a beat to it. But the main thing about it is a group of people going back and forth with one another. That's what it's like.