Jazzman Marsalis trumpets youth, musical diversity

Fri Jul 4, 2014 6:13am EDT
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By Jeremy Gaunt

LONDON (Reuters) - The solo played by U.S. jazzman Wynton Marsalis to close his now-annual residency at London's Barbican this week was a rare personal moment in what was otherwise a master class in sharing the limelight.

In lieu of a full-fledged encore with his 14-strong Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO), Marsalis entertained with a small combo, delighting an already bouncing crowd with swooping scales of trumpet.

But for much of the time over the three nights, Marsalis allowed his band and guests to shine in performances that ran the gamut from Pakistani sitar jazz to reflections on the '50s and '60s music of the legendary Blue Note jazz record label.

Wednesday's Blue Note tribute of tracks by the likes of Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson and Woody Shaw, for example, involved arrangements by nine different members of the band, solos from all, and Marsalis himself sometimes only playing fourth trumpet.

There were also guest performances by young jazz musicians, brought on by Marsalis both to highlight and develop their skills - a tip to the 52-year-old Marsalis's other persona as a mentor and teacher.

"My father is a teacher and as I grew up he had classes in the community. When I started to go on the road with (jazz drummer and bandleader) Art Blakey when I was 18, I started to do classes," Marsalis told Reuters in an interview.

Sometime he teaches music - but not always.

"I try to teach them mythology so they can recalibrate how they look at the world," said Marsalis, who has served as a United Nations goodwill ambassador.   Continued...

U.S. jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis plays trumpet during a rehearsal for a series of concerts in Havana October 4, 2010. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan