3, genuine, passionately felt devotion to jazz. And " then there was the media ‘battle’ with Miles Davis.

‘That was a media thing. We knew each other well, and we talked a lot about music, because Miles’s music had a profound effect on me as a musician —I mean the music that he was really seriously playing. Unfortunately, by the time I came around, he had bent over so far for rock that he was a hindrance to what I was trying to do. He was always saying something negative about jazz, like a great general who had gone over to the other side, but you still respect his achievements as a great general.’

The first phase of Marsalis’s jazz development lay with the quartets and quintets of the 80s,

‘As far as the jazz tradition goes, we are definitely extending it, and we’re also defending it and conserving it at the same time.’

which saw him dismissed in some quarters as a revivalist and a musical conservative. By the end of the decade he had sprung another surprise shift of direction, and one which had the espousers of the revivalist theory turning apoplcctic. His exploration of the standard tradition, and even more crucially its deep roots in the blues and the early music of New Orleans, revealed the true extent of his artistic vision forjazz.

What Marsalis is about is embracing the

I I I I whole tradition, but not in any simply

I I imititative sense. He regards jazz as a living continuum which is constantly renewing itself,

and rejects only the ‘pessimistic’ extremes of the 60s avant-garde (but excludes John

I Coltrane and Omette Coleman from that renunciation, and may well be working with the latter this year, a mouth-watering possibility).

‘When I got to about 23 or 24, I started to

Kenny Mathieson looks at the life and times of the figurehead of the “331‘” that 1370"“ “Five ‘0 work my wily through thejazz tradition, that l was gorng to

contemporary jazz rebirth, trumpet master WYNTON MARSALIS. have to play the standards and SO on that I had

discarded if I was going to understand the music, but I don’t want to be limited to any one style ofjazz. Jazz music is perpetually modern, and it evolves through a certain type of individuality which the musicians bring to it, not through continually adding some new trend every year. When we play New Orleans jazz, it doesn’t sound like the way Louis Armstrong

decade ago, jazz players couldn’t play the music seemed strange. Everybody

get arrested. Even in New York, the bowed down before the altar of rock music, and music had been driven underground, that was the source of all the problems we had brushed aside by rock and fusion, at that time.’

and the musicians who were hanging The brothers joined up with drummer An

in trying to play their music did so to Blakey, and started to make an impression. It

general apathy. No one person is wholly was at that time, as a mark of respect for the la Cd it

responsible for the remarkable resurgence of great drummer, that Wynton laid aside jeans p. y ' , . , - -

. . . . . . . . As far as thejazz tradition goes, we are interest in both playing and listening t0jazz and began to cultivate the smart suits and

definitely extending it, and we’re also defending it and conserving it at the same time, so we are performing many functions at once. it’s not one particular thing. Jazz is a democracy it’s freedom of expression, but it’s also creating music with other people in a group improvisation, and when we are on the

styles which marked out the ensuing years, but clean-cut image which he made de rigeur for Wynton Marsalis was undoubtedly the biggest the wave of young neo-boppers who followed single catalyst behind that change. in his wake. The combination of his remarkable Wynton came out of New Orleans with an trumpet skills, stylish image, and outspoken ambition to play hard bop, which was about as defence of the music began to attract a lot of unfashionable as you could get then, other than attention, and brought a recording contract with

playing in the traditional New Orleans style Columbia which launched the most successful bandst d .t, d t. .t l H b H ff n,

itself (he got around to that, too). He began career in contemporary jazz. M a? {If he ed)’ a CO 3 (:3! lhe If: 0 -

messing around on trumpet at six, ‘took it Marsalis’s public credibility was undoubtedly 8r.” 18 S" as. ‘5 .etriicmfs’ u c as

seriously’ from twelve, took classical training helped by the fact that he was also a virtuoso been Inglmmcmal m bnngngazz.m a .hpge

from fourteen, played in funk bands with his performer of the classical trumpet repertoire, a young mime?“ we?“ 0f the predmab'hty 0f

saxophonist brother Branford in high school, joint career which he has succeeded in rock a Situation much he COUld hardly have

and absorbed an initial understanding of the maintaining ever since. He has chosen to give cnv'.sag6d When he began At 32’.hc '8 no.w the

jazz tradition from his father, pianist Ellis jazz priority over the years, however, and has leading figure or a movement Wthh he kid.“

Marsalis. had his share of well-publicised spats in Staned’ and 2.1 r016 mOdCI for those wm.) as!)er Both Wynton and Branford gravitated to New pursuing his goals. Behind those disputes, to “9"” ms musmal prowesst and ms

York in the late 705, where the trumpeter which included a temporary falling out with {manual success'

recalls ‘that we were fighting to get to playjazz Branford when he joined Sting’s band, an act The Wym‘)" Marsalis Group are a’ The

on any level the whole idea of wanting to Wynton saw as selling out to rock, lies a Queen ’3 Ha” 0" Thurs 3-

12 The List 2| May—3 June l993