Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Notes on Wynton

Just as was to be expected, it was a packed Corbett Theatre for the Wynton Marsalis Masterclass at U.C. on Monday! What can one say that has not already been said about someone at the top of his game in both jazz and classical trumpet playing? His playing speaks for itself. And yesterday he spoke for himself just as articulately and warmly as he plays.

While that luscious Monette trumpet sat there all by itself on the chair, Wynton spoke of his life and his music to a huge audience who respectfully hung on every word, analogy, and bit of music history. Impressive is his broad knowledge of music, but it is his humor and humility that make him all the more admirable.

If you went to take notes, he gave you lots to consider. What to practice seems easy and clear, the way he broke it down. At the top of his list is breathing. Then comes clarity of the first note, tone and flexibility. What else is there? Good to hear him highly recommend the Fourteen Characteristics of Arban and tons of etudes. Some things never change. There are no shortcuts.

For a career like his, incredible dedication and persistence are required, probably way more than we realize. He recalled struggling with tendinitis from so much finger work on Perpetual Motion during his recording project with the Eastman Wind Ensemble. No one would have guessed. There isn't much money to be had in music, he warned. It's a lot of work, so you really have to love what you're doing.

A dominant message seemed to be his infectious drive and passion for music. As driven as he obviously is, his trademark is still that balanced, laid back and unstressed approach - perhaps a valuable secret to his longevity and success. He emphasized absorbing the best from many different artists, and not being so much about yourself that you can't learn from and appreciate others. We can thank whomever it was years ago that slipped Wynton his first recording of Maurice Andre! The rest is history.

I admire his fresh approach to music appreciation. He still gets a kick out of young kids trying to play for all they're worth. He likes to take in the sounds of a symphony orchestra tuning up, and savors the powerful belting out of confident brass music as it makes its way into a reverberant hall. He is one gifted man with awesome musical instincts. It was great to hear him speak and play. The sheer joy of the best about music is still there even after all these years. Today I was thinking during lessons, "What would Wynton say?"

No comments: