Wynton Marsalis Jazzes Up Band Class

Screeching saxophones and overblown trombones…Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis just loves the sound of band class in the morning. For real.

A young musician participates in Jazz at Lincoln Center's Jazz for Young People program. SundayArts.

“I can’t tell you how many years on the road I got up at six o’clock in the morning to hear an elementary school band,” Marsalis said in a recent interview with SundayArts.

“I wanted to hear what you sound like when you’re 7 or 8 years old in Mr. Caputo’s class, clarinets squeaking and squawking, people beating on percussion instruments. I always say, ‘Oh we sounding good this morning. I love it when you squeak like that, ’cause I know you love this music.'”

WNET’s SundayArts recently spoke with Marsalis, the leader of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s marquee 15-piece orchestra, about Jazz for Young People, a series of concerts and workshops developed to inspire and instruct budding jazz musicians. The concerts play Saturday afternoons, and cover broad but essential elements of jazz culture and theory like “Who is Duke Ellington?” — led by Marsalis himself — and “What Is Improvisation?”

In a time when many public schools are cutting arts programs, Jazz at Lincoln Center Director of Education Todd Stoll hails Jazz for Young People’s potential to enhance music education. “We have a number of programs that reach out to kids of all ages,” he says.

“One of our largest [outreach] programs is Essentially Ellington. We sent out over 100,000 free scores to 350,000 high school students, and for a lot of high school students…that’s their first connection with authentic repertoire. We actually give this information away — and we’re not giving away average quality. We’re giving away Duke Ellington’s music, Mary Lou William’s music, Benny Carter’s music. It’s like we’re giving away free Mercedes Benz automobiles.”


A profile of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz for Young People programs. Video courtesy of SundayArts.


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