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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wynton

Wynton has always left me cold. I saw him in person the first time last night. Everyone enjoyed the concert, which was pretty much sold out. I enjoyed it too, but it did not change my reaction to Wynton. He still leaves me cold. He plays excellent jazz, and I love jazz, but I just don't respond to him as a player.

If Wynton does not leave you cold, then you are not wrong. I just don't feel it, and I am 100% correct in my evaluation of my own response.

One hypothesis: what gets in the way for me is the impulse to recreate historical styles of music, playing them tal cual. You can recreate the style, but that original style was not a recreation of something else, but its own thing. Nobody 50 years from now will be recreating Wynton's recreation of Art Blakey.

12 comments:

Andrew Shields said...

I saw him in Basel a decade or so ago with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. They played fantastic old charts by Fletcher Henderson and Mary Lou Williams (at least I remember her as the second arranger he was digging up). And they played them very well, but also as if they were covered with dust. Then they played a Wynton tune with a great chart, and they swung their asses off. It was almost even offensive that they played Wynton's charts RIGHT and all the old charts WRONG.

And then for the final encore, the big band became a marching band and marched around the hall, swinging like crazy. Such a schizophrenic show: old music played as if it were dead (even though the point was to bring it back to life); new music brought to life; and only the encore really played with full-scale energy.

Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas said...

Can't resist adding this footnote:

""If Lester Bangs were alive today, he'd know exactly why Miles Davis used to call Wynton* Marsalis 'the police'." (Ron Silliman)

*See Andrew's comments in this post for some context.

(PS, yes, I was too vain to let my misspelling of Wynton stand.)

Vance Maverick said...

It's odd to speak of enjoying something that leaves you cold.

I've heard some bits of playing from him that hinted at something livelier. But the intense conservatism and devotion to specific pre-polished surfaces is indeed hard to warm to. A teacher of mine epitomized this as "I play trumpet concertos" -- he took a stand deep in the territory of the heartless virtuoso.

Jonathan said...

There were some solos I enjoyed by the sidemen, and I liked the process of analyzing my own reactions. The concert did not move me emotionally for the most part, and the audience clapped for solos but I did not hear oohs and aahs of frisson. I've listened to Marsalis play classical concerti also, on recordings. My daughter is at conservatory studying trumpet so I've analyzed various players with her. He can certainly play a lot of trumpet from the technical standpoint.

Leslie said...

Wynton's music *is* cold, I feel. And I am from N.O.

Andrew Shields said...

(An aside: Branford's music is not cold!)

Jonathan said...

I know. I saw Branford play in my dream last nigh in a a supermarket. At first I thought he was Sonny Rollins but he was too young. Then I figured out he was Branford.

Andrew Shields said...

Branford's playing can be heard in supermarkets much more often than Wynton's. After all, B played with Sting, and Sting's music gets played in supermarkets.

Jonathan said...

In my dream the actual guy was there in the supermarket with his sax.

Andrew Shields said...

I don't recall ever having any jazz musicians show up in my dreams!

Jonathan said...

The weird things was that I forgot about the dream until I saw your comment; then it all came back to me.