Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis has been a touchstone in the ‘what is jazz’ debate for more than three decades now. After growing up in a jazz family – his father is pianist Ellis Marsalis – Wynton came up through the ranks with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and then did a stint with Herbie Hancock’s VSOP before striking out on his own.
Soon Wynton was simultaneously winning Jazz and Classical Grammy Awards, and record labels were signing jazz artists to recording contracts again. He has maintained a high profile – and been very vocal with his opinion of music – ever since. When you think of mainstream jazz in the last few decades, it is impossible to describe it without bringing Wynton Marsalis into the mix.
Wynton Marsalis turns 50 on October 18th, and to celebrate he is putting on a show at Lincoln Center in New York City, and is live-streaming the event.