- About Us
- How to Help
- For Kids
- Old Website
Wynton Marsalis has been described as the most outstanding jazz musician and trumpeter of his generation, as one of the world's top classical trumpeters, as a big band leader in the tradition of Duke Ellington, a brilliant composer, a devoted advocate of the arts and a tireless and inspiring educator.
The sound of Wynton Marsalis' band is inspired by the basic principals of democracy. What you hear in a great jazz band, according to Marsalis, is the sound of democracy. "The jazz band, like our democracy, works best when participation is shaped by intelligent communication." Through jazz music, Wynton represents the United States all over the world. In just about every continent -- from Asia to the Americas, from Africa to Europe, you will find Wynton sharing his vision of the union of jazz and democracy.
Wynton was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 18, 1961 to Ellis (a jazz pianist and music educator) and Dolores Marsalis. He is the second of six sons, including fellow musicians Branford, Jason and Delfeayo. At an early age, Wynton exhibited serious study, a talent for music and a desire to contribute to American culture. At age 14, he was invited to perform with the New Orleans Philharmonic. During high school, Wynton was a member of the New Orleans Brass Quintet, New Orleans Community Concert Band, New Orleans Youth Orchestra, New Orleans Symphony, and on weekends, he performed in a jazz band. At age 17, he became the youngest musician ever to be admitted to Tanglewood's Berkshire Music Center, an affiliate of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
After touring extensively with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Wynton assembled his own band and hit the road, performing over 120 concerts every year for ten consecutive years. His objective was to learn how to play, knowing that performance is the key to a jazz musician's development. During these years, Wynton's strong belief in jazz and his vision for the music began to revitalize the art form. Through an endless series of performances, lectures and music workshops, Wynton has rekindled widespread interest in jazz music, a hallmark of American culture.
Wynton's love of the compositions of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and others drove him to pursue a career in classical music as well. He recorded the Haydn, Hummel and Leopold Mozart trumpet concertos at the age of twenty. His debut recording received glorious reviews and won the Grammy Award for "Best Classical Soloist with an Orchestra." Marsalis went on to record ten additional classical records, all to critical acclaim.
In 1987, Wynton started Jazz at Lincoln Center, which has developed into an international agenda with up to 400 events annually, in 15 countries. Educational activities include an annual High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival that involves over 2000 bands in the 50 states and Canada, the multimedia Jazz for Young People Curriculum, as well as an extremely popular concert series for kids.
In the fall of 1995, PBS premiered a series of educational television shows on jazz and classical music, called "Marsalis on Music." The series was written and hosted by Marsalis, and was enjoyed by millions of parents and children. That same year, Time magazine selected him as one of America's most promising leaders under age 40, and the following year, Time magazine named Wynton as one of America's 25 Most Influential People. The following year, 1997, Wynton became the first jazz musician ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music, which he won for his epic Blood on the Fields. In 2001, he was awarded the United Nations honor of "Messenger of Peace."
Wynton has won nine Grammy Awards, and is the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical records, and the only artist ever to have won Grammy Awards five years in a row.