Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis

About Wynton Marsalis

Few can rival trumpeter Wynton Marsalis' influence on 20th century music. Born into a jazz family in New Orleans in 1961—his father was pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr.—he entered Juilliard to pursue classical music in 1979 but was soon lured away by drummer Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers. Marsalis and his older saxophone-playing brother Branford remained with Blakey until 1982, though Wynton also found time to tour with piano great Herbie Hancock. The brothers' subsequent quintet heralded the "Young Lions" movement, as a wave of spry musicians in natty suits revamped the hard bop of the '50s and early '60s to introduce an acoustic sound to a new generation. Marsalis' respect for artists like Miles Davis led him to program jazz at New York’s Lincoln Center, where he continued exploring the music's early legacy, immersing himself in the blues and work of legends like Duke Ellington. Marsalis also began writing programmatic pieces, including his 1997 oratorio Blood On the Fields, the first jazz composition to win a Pulitzer Prize. He became a cultural lightning rod, excoriating most modern music and holding to the primacy of early jazz, and was appointed musical director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in 1991. He has continued to tour and record with his own bands and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra while maintaining preeminence as a jazz scholar through collaborations with documentarian Ken Burns.

  • HOMETOWN
    New Orleans, LA
  • BORN
    October 18, 1961

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