Home > Music News > Jazz is not hindered by boundaries, Wynton!

Jazz is not hindered by boundaries, Wynton!

21st Dec 09 (Mon) Leave a comment Go to comments

Wynton Marsalis photo by Steve Mack

An open letter to Wynton Marsalis, self-professed “CEO of Jazz,” in response to this article:

Wynton Marsalis seeks purist fan . . .

The legendary jazz musician wants to give a present to the jazz buff in Spain who complained to the police that the music at a gig wasn’t ‘jazz’ – and has asked the Guardian to find him. Problem is, we can’t . . .
{read more of Giles Tremlett’s article from The Guardian UK}

While I enjoy much (if not all) of your catalogue, while I will likely continue to enjoy your future work, and while I will likely continue to go see you if you swing through my town – sometimes you are a close-minded nitwit.

Regardless of the fact that you may play what some to be considered “true jazz” that fits more with the founding New Orleans sound, you and your music do not define the genre.  Jazz is not something that is defined so narrowly.

For the sake of the artform, shut up, Wynton.  Quit trying to trumpet from the mountain-top that jazz is limited to that which you want it to be limited.

Free jazz and avant-garde/experimental jazz aren’t supposed to be called jazz?  Fine, that’s your opinion.  Just quit being such a pompous jerk about it.

Daniel Temmesfeld

np: Dave DouglasA Single Sky 

  1. 21st Dec 09 (Mon) at 2:42 pm

    Dan, Great job! I will update and include a linky.

  2. 21st Dec 09 (Mon) at 6:15 pm

    While I agree that Jazz is not Wynton Marsalis, or any one individual, I don’t believe Wynton is trying to make that claim. He is merely trying to establish guidelines for the artform he loves, much like you might deny that an impostor is a member of your family.

    You may disagree with his conclusions, but only a “nitwit” would deny the need for some line of demarkation between genres, if only for identification purposes.

    You also display your ignorance of his widely available opinions on other genres of music. I recommend that you read “Reaching for Higher Ground” to become informed that while he values jazz above other genres, he makes efforts to not insult or devalue other genres as a rule (hip-hop a worthy exception, though for reasons more social than musical).

    If we use jazz to describe any kind of music, we lose the distinction between Louis Armstrong and Chris Botti – both talented musicians, but it would be unfair to describe either in comparison to the other. I’ve never heard Botti play jazz, at least in the sense that Armstrong used the term, so it seems unfair to both to call it that. Jazz as a performance style existed for many years before a consensus term was used to identify it – perhaps we are now at the same juncture with “smooth jazz,” a term which seems pejorative and simplistic to me.

    Regardless, I think it is foolish and small-minded to tell Mr. Marsalis – perhaps the most eloquent spokesman and educator in any genre of music, let alone jazz, in the last 20 years – to “shut up.” You are entitled to your opinion, of course, but “for the sake of the artform,” please make sure your opinion is informed by more than your ideas. Thanks.

    • 21st Dec 09 (Mon) at 11:01 pm

      Fair enough.

      He’s done it before, though. I don’t have a problem with his opinions, but I have a problem with his pomposity and continual snootiness when it comes to what he thinks “jazz” is – again, he’s done this before.

      But then again, I guess I came off as a little harsh. :) Thanks for your post.


  1. 21st Dec 09 (Mon) at 3:08 pm

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