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Wynton Marsalis & Ellis Marsalis

The most famous jazz musician since 1980, Wynton Marsalis had a major impact on jazz almost from the start. In the early '80s, it was major news that a young and very talented black musician would choose to make a living playing acoustic jazz rather than fusion, funk, or R&B. Marsalis' arrival on the scene started the "Young Lions" movement and resulted in major labels (most of whom had shown no interest in jazz during the previous decade) suddenly signing and promoting young players. There had been a major shortage of new trumpeters since 1970, but Marsalis' sudden prominence inspired an entire new crop of brass players. The music of the mid-'60s Miles Davis Quintet had been somewhat overshadowed when it was new, but Marsalis' quintet focused on extending the group's legacy and soon other "Young Lion" units were using Davis' late acoustic work as their starting point.

During his career, Marsalis has managed to be a controversial figure despite his obvious abilities. His selective knowledge of jazz history (considering post-1965 avant-garde playing to be outside of jazz and '70s fusion to be barren) is unfortunately influenced by the somewhat eccentric beliefs of Stanley Crouch, and his hiring policies as musical director of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra led to exaggerated charges of ageism and racism from local writers. However, more than balancing all of this out is Marsalis' inspiring work with youngsters, many of whom he has introduced to jazz; a few young musicians, such as Roy Hargrove, have been directly helped by Marsalis.

Marsalis' trumpet playing has been both overcriticized and (at least early on) overpraised. When he first arrived on the scene with the Jazz Messengers, his original inspiration was Freddie Hubbard. However, by the time he began leading his own group, Marsalis often sounded very close to Miles Davis (particularly when holding a long tone), although a version of Davis with virtuosic technique. He was so widely praised by the jazz press at the time (due to their relief that the future of jazz finally seemed safe) that there was an inevitable backlash. Marsalis' sometimes inaccurate statements about jazz of the '70s and the avant-garde in general made some observers angry, and his rather derivative tone at the time made it seem as if there was always going to have to be an asterisk by his name when evaluating his talents. Some listeners formed permanent impressions of Marsalis as a Miles Davis imitator, but they failed to take into account that he was still improving and developing. With the 1990 recording Tune in Tomorrow, Marsalis at last sounded like himself. He had found his own voice by exploring earlier styles of jazz (such as Louis Armstrong's playing), mastering the wah-wah mute, and studying Duke Ellington. From that point on, even when playing a Miles Davis standard, Marsalis had his own sound and has finally taken his place as one of jazz's greats.

The son of pianist Ellis Marsalis, the younger brother of Branford and the older brother of Delfeayo and Jason (the Marsalis clan as a whole can be accurately called "The First Family of Jazz"), Wynton (who was named after pianist Wynton Kelly) received his first trumpet at age six from Ellis' employer, Al Hirt. He studied both classical and jazz and played in local marching bands, funk groups, and classical orchestras. Marsalis played first trumpet in the New Orleans Civic Orchestra while in high school. He went to Juilliard when he was 18 and in 1980 he made his first recordings with the Art Blakey Big Band and joined the Jazz Messengers.

By 1981, the young trumpeter was the talk of the jazz world. He toured with Herbie Hancock (a double LP resulted), continued working with Blakey, signed with Columbia, and recorded his first album as a leader. In 1982, Marsalis not only formed his own quintet (featuring brother Branford and soon Kenny Kirkland, Charnett Moffett, and Jeff "Tain" Watts) but recorded his first classical album; he was immediately ranked as one of the top classical trumpeters of all time. His quintet with Branford lasted until late 1985, although a rift developed between the brothers (fortunately temporary) when Branford finally quit the band to tour with Sting's pop group. By that time Wynton was a superstar, winning a countless number of awards and polls.

Marsalis' next group featured pianist Marcus Roberts, bassist Robert Hurst, and drummer Watts. Over time the group grew to become a four-horn septet with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, altoist Wes Anderson, Todd Williams on tenor, bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Herlin Riley, and (by the early '90s) pianist Eric Reed. Marsalis really developed his writing during this era (being influenced by Duke Ellington) and the septet proved to be a perfect outlet for his arranging. Although Marsalis broke up the band by 1995, many of the musicians still appear in his special projects or with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

In 1997, Marsalis' marathon Blood on the Fields (which was released as a three-CD set) became the first jazz-based work to win a Pulitzer Prize. Standard Time, Vol. 5: The Midnight Blues followed a year later. With the passing of so many jazz giants, Marsalis' importance (as a trumpeter, leader, writer, and spokesman for jazz) continued to grow. Standard Time, Vol. 4: Marsalis Plays Monk followed in 1999 to coincide with the popular PBS special. Then, as if eight proper recordings in 1999 weren't enough, Columbia and Marsalis released an amazingly affordable seven-disc set entitled Live at the Village Vanguard. Mid-2000 saw the release of Marciac Suite and Goin' Down Home. Two years later, Marsalis celebrated the blues on All Rise. Next up was his first album for Blue Note, The Magic Hour, an album of original material released early in 2004. Later that year, the label released Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, Marsalis' soundtrack to a Ken Burns documentary. Marsalis' second studio effort for Blue Note, the politically and socially aware From the Plantation to the Penitentiary, followed in 2007.

In 2008, Marsalis teamed up with country icon Willie Nelson for the live album Two Men with the Blues which featured the duo performing over a two-night stint at Lincoln Center. The following year, Marsalis released the concept album He and She in which he explored the theme of relationships between men and women. In 2011, he returned with the live album Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles which once again paired him with Nelson as well as vocalist Norah Jones. Also in 2011, Marsalis, who had previously guested on guitarist Eric Clapton's 2010 album Clapton, again paired with rock/blues master for the concert album Play the Blues: Live from Jazz at Lincoln Center. Marsalis also contributed the score to Burns' 2011 documentary, Prohibition. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Comments

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These types of groups of groups have been around for ever but they never cease to amaze. Sheer artistry and too hip. This selection is on my Vince Guaraldi station and 100 % of the selections have been thumbs up for a long time!
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eldithomaso
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life, however, if you don't post this you will be injured in two days (you won't die) now you started reading this so don't stop. Post this on five other songs in the next 143 minutes. When you're done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen. It's so scary it actually works!
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i love jazz and the song is very unique and swingy its awesome
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It's a very cool thing to get to work with your Dad I met Wynton and Branford and Miles Davis at a FREE concert with some friends here in Philadelphia were I live very down to earth both of them I gave special props to their Dad and both agreed to that fact that Dad is the man... the next year at another concert here in Philly my friends attended but I could not make they both asked for me personally I thought that was really cool when my friends told me this that's why I love them to this day
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carolpbj
So catchy I could listen to this song all day LOL
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yeayea
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Wynton Marsalis is my hero :-)
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da truf
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JAZZ BROTHAS N' SISTAS
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Yes Lisa is right on Vince composed this!
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FYI, Vince Guaraldi is the composer. Very important info IMO!
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not big bands
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Some stations are just close to my heart! THIS IS ONE OF THEM!!!- LOVE IT!!!
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This is Charlie browns girl friend
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Sow it
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This always lifts my spirits about 3 notches! So cool.
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box
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wyleyy
Come on MORNINGMOUTH stop hating
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morningmouth
To my ears, it sounds nothing like the style of Vince Guaraldi. To my ears...Diana Krall's playing sounds JUST LIKE Vince, but not Ellis!
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Yes Chuck
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wyleyy
swwwwwwwwwww w w e e e e e e e e e e t !
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Salve for aching joints and a cold glass of lemonade to boot! Oh yeah!
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johnmargie6
Candy for the ears!
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Smooth JAZZ like it . :o))
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It sound so great. I love it
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So so smooth!
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tam_wharton
Great Song! It sounds similar to Vince Guaraldi. No other family is as musically talented and just so very funky with the possible exception of the Escobedo family.
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I could listen to this day after day. This is truly smooth jazz.
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doing the harlem shake before it was cool
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1. KISS YOUR HAND 2. MAKE A WISH 3. MAKE A FIST OVER YOUR HART 4. HOLD IT THERE FOR FIVE SECONDS 5. POST THIS ON 10 DIFFERENT SONGS AND YOUR WISH WILL COME TRUE.
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jarrin1056
This is smooth jazz with a hop and kick! I love this!
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love it! This never gets old!
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amazing...ab s o l u t e l y incedible.
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ready2rockan d r o l l 2 0 0 2
I love when they play this on Charlie Brown Christmas with Peppermint Patty....Can you dig it, man!
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michelle_tol i v e r
Thx u NOLA musicians
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garbett2871
Sounds just like Vince Guaraldi, But Still Great...
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This music is easy on the ears, light on the heart and very enjoyable for my Saturday morning listening audience. The Jazzy sound of the Marsalis family is unmistable.
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1stchairflut e
Gives me the Christmas Spirit!
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i liked it until minuet 3
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Charlie Brown......k i n d of.......
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I'm a first time listener and I love it TOO much! Excellence
- Most Love
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love that C.Bown beat
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celahdy
I like his music
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It sounds so good!
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I like that CD
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Wow, the best in the US, right Here!
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stephen6391
My aunt gave this to me for Christmas when I was in high school. It was stolen in a car break-in along with my entire CD library years back. Love, love, LOVE this album!
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Go Daddy Go!! ;-)) xoxo, elove.
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What a gift on Christmas Eve.
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i have nothing but the highest praise for the entire family. They are a blessing from God.
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