A survey in my latest City Arts column of the music of trumpeter-composer Wynton Marsalis, in the jazz spotlight for 25 years. Founder and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, educator, activist, humanitarian, winner of a Pulitzer and multiple Grammies, Wynton stands tallest in my book when he just plays jazz.
Some 250 luminaries including French Ambassador Pierre Vimont and pianist-father Ellis Marsalis heard the Man with the Horn throw down with his quintet at the Fifth Avenue center for cultural services of the French Embassy earlier this month, pressing to get near as possible to his excitement. Wynton Marsalis will not be denied, and his current releases — a dvd of a performance with Willie Nelson, playing Ray Charles’ hits, and a Christmas Jazz Jam – seem like stopgaps in his quest towards a monumental (and as yet uncompleted) “Blues Symphony.” See and hear for yourself what he’s got in mind . . .