All Time Famous Wynton Marsalis Quotes

Wynton Marsalis Quotes

Wynton Marsalis, born in 1961, is a prominent American jazz trumpeter, composer, and educator. Rising to fame in the 1980s, he’s celebrated for his virtuosic trumpet skills and deep respect for jazz tradition. Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards and is the only artist to win in both jazz and classical categories in the same year (1983). Alongside his performance career, he’s a prolific composer, spanning jazz and orchestral genres. Notably, Marsalis founded Jazz at Lincoln Center in 1987, serving as artistic director to promote jazz education and appreciation. Through his efforts, he has preserved jazz as an essential American art form. Marsalis’s influence extends beyond music, recognized for his dedication to education and advocacy. Overall, he remains a leading figure in contemporary jazz, renowned for his talent, commitment to tradition, and efforts to elevate jazz’s cultural significance.

Wynton Marsalis Quotes

1. “Jazz is democracy in music.”
— Wynton Marsalis

2. “This music heals people because music is vibration, and the proper vibration heals.”
— Wynton Marsalis

3. “I dress up a certain way because I respect the music.”
— Wynton Marsalis

4. “The soul gives us resilience – an essential quality since we constantly have to rebound from hardship.”
— Wynton Marsalis

5. “Let the critics criticize and let the doers do.”
— Wynton Marsalis

6. “Ethics are more important than laws.”
— Wynton Marsalis

7. “Everything comes out in blues music: joy, pain, struggle. Blues is affirmation with absolute elegance.”
— Wynton Marsalis

8. “We always hear about the rights of democracy, but the major responsibility of it is participation.”
— Wynton Marsalis

9. “We’re blues people. And blues never lets tragedy have the last word.”
— Wynton Marsalis

10. “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying.”
— Wynton Marsalis

11. “Trumpet players are just belligerant, and cocky, and you know, just hard-headed.”
— Wynton Marsalis

12. “If you want to be different, do something different.”
— Wynton Marsalis

13. “Jazz music is the power of now.”
— Wynton Marsalis

14. “Music is the art of all the invisible things that are real. Art, emotion, spiritual essence, consciousness – these things are hard to prove. Music helps you to focus on your sound. We understand that for very young kids.”
— Wynton Marsalis

15. “Jazz music is the power of now. There is no script. It’s conversation. The emotion is given to you by musicians as they make split-second decisions to fulfill what they feel the moment requires.”
— Wynton Marsalis

16. “Don’t settle for style. Succeed in substance.”
— Wynton Marsalis

17. “We need more math classes, we need more science. It’s the art of math and the art of science that creates all the innovation, and we have a tradition of great arts, great music.”
— Wynton Marsalis

18. “There are forces all around you who wish to exploit division, rob you of your freedom, and tell you what to think. But young folks can rekindle the weary spirit of a slumbering nation.”
— Wynton Marsalis

19. “There is an idea that a mind is wasted on the arts unless it makes you good in math or science. There is some evidence that the arts might help you in math and science.”
— Wynton Marsalis

20. “Jazz is not the kind of music you are going to learn to play in three or four years or that you can just get because you have some talent for music.”
— Wynton Marsalis

21. “I’m just lucky to have the type of friends and musicians and people dedicated to my music that I do.”
— Wynton Marsalis

22. “Blues is like the roux in a gumbo. People ask me if jazz always has the blues in it. I say, if it sounds good it does.”
— Wynton Marsalis

23. “A beat is a moment in the life a groove.”
— Wynton Marsalis

24. “Ethics are more important than laws. Which means that the exact note is less important than the feeling of the note.”
— Wynton Marsalis

25. “I think that when the education system started to be dismantled during the first Great Depression in the 1930s, we didn’t recover from that.”
— Wynton Marsalis

26. “Art is a luxury. It’s not necessary for you to – you can work your job and you can make some money and never know who Walt Whitman was, and never read a poem.”
— Wynton Marsalis

27. “The first jazz musician was a trumpeter, Buddy Bolden, and the last will be a trumpeter, the archangel Gabriel.”
— Wynton Marsalis

28. “Love is the spiritual essence of what we do. Technique is the manifestation of the preparation and investment as a result of the love.”
— Wynton Marsalis

29. “Even if nobody’s singing, just when you talk, you’re singing. I’ll meet somebody and say, “Oh, I’m tone-deaf.” I say, “You’re not tone-deaf, because if you were tone-deaf you would speak like that. But you’re ‘Oh, I’m tone-deaf.’ You already sang a song to me.””
— Wynton Marsalis

30. “The only justification for looking down on anyone is that you’re going to stop and pick them up.”
— Wynton Marsalis

31. “Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” is still in print. They’re debating right now over Mark Twain. He’s still available. Winslow Homer can still be seen. Our arts are – they’re there. We got to go get them and understand that this is an important legacy for our country.”
— Wynton Marsalis

32. “The nerves are a problem on trumpet, because when you mess up everyone can hear it. Just remember most people are too polite to say anything about it. That should calm your nerves.”
— Wynton Marsalis

33. “Who creates a thing is not as important as what the thing is. Who created baseball? Who created basketball? Who created the space program? Who created – we could go on and on. We could argue about who created something. We all are participants in it.”
— Wynton Marsalis

34. “Trumpet players see each other, and it’s like we’re getting ready to square off or get into a fight or something.”
— Wynton Marsalis

35. “I didn’t want to get that ring around my lips from practicing the trumpet, because I thought the girls wouldn’t like me. So I never practiced.”
— Wynton Marsalis

36. “Maybe the preoccupation with technological progress has overshadowed our concern with human progress.”
— Wynton Marsalis

37. “How great musicians demonstrate a mutual respect and trust on the bandstand can alter your outlook on the world and enrich every aspect of your life, understanding what it means to be a global citizen in the most modern sense.”
— Wynton Marsalis

38. “The fact that we are culturally ignorant and we don’t know what our heritage is, the price that we pay is that we act outside of ourselves almost all the time. We make very bad decisions how we deal with other people and their culture.”
— Wynton Marsalis

39. “Whenever you face a man who’s playing your instrument, there’s a competition.”
— Wynton Marsalis

40. “For Black people, we’re one of the only groups of people that for some reason to express love of yourself, in some ways, is misconstrued as a dislike for someone else.”
— Wynton Marsalis

41. “There’s so much spirit of integration and democracy in jazz.”
— Wynton Marsalis

42. “When did we begin to lose faith in our ability to effect change?”
— Wynton Marsalis

43. “The first time I ever played the trumpet in public, I played the Marine Hymn. I sounded terrible.”
— Wynton Marsalis

44. “Many a revolution started with the actions of a few. Only 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence. A few hanging together can lead a nation to change.”
— Wynton Marsalis

45. “The musicians I respected were much older than me. I expected them to cut my head, and they did.”
— Wynton Marsalis

46. “There really have only ever been a few people in each generation who step out, are willing to put themselves on the line, and risk everything for their beliefs.”
— Wynton Marsalis

47. “We created the spirituals. We created so much great music, jazz chief amongst our innovations, teaching us how to prize ourselves and how to speak to one another, that our kids don’t know that achievement, there’s no way in the world that could be good for us.”
— Wynton Marsalis

48. “Only a few act – the rest of us reap the benefits of their risk.”
— Wynton Marsalis

49. “When I auditioned for my high school band the band director was excited because my father was known to be a great musician. When he heard me, he said ‘Are you sure you’re Ellis’s son?’”
— Wynton Marsalis

50. “Don’t wish for someone else to do later what you can do now.”
— Wynton Marsalis

51. “Music is always for the listener, but the first listener is always the musician.”
— Wynton Marsalis

52. “Everything comes out in blues music: joy, pain, struggle. Blues is affirmation with absolute elegance. It’s about a man and a woman. So the pain and the struggle in the blues is that universal pain that comes from having your heart broken. Most blues songs are not about social statements.”
— Wynton Marsalis

53. “I believed in studying just because I knew education was a privilege. It was the discipline of study, to get into the habit of doing something that you don’t want to do.”
— Wynton Marsalis

54. “I try to find the core values that are so fundamental that they transcend ethnic identity. That doesn’t mean I run from it. I embrace African-American culture and I love it and embrace it, but it is a part of a human identity. So I’m always trying to make a larger human statement.”
— Wynton Marsalis

55. “It’s really not a stretch. The checks and balances are the same. The drums are the executive branch. The jazz orchestra is the legislative branch. Logic and reason are like jazz solos. The bass player is the judicial branch. One our greatest ever is Milt Hinton, and his nickname is “The Judge.””
— Wynton Marsalis

56. “Many of our greatest musicians abandoned all of their aesthetic objectives to try to become pertinent. And, at the end of the day, they never became pop stars. I counter stated that very strongly, and I continue to do that.”
— Wynton Marsalis

57. “Jazz comes from our way of life, and because it’s our national art form, it helps us to understand who we are.”
— Wynton Marsalis

58. “Sustained intensity equals ecstacy.”
— Wynton Marsalis

59. “I grew up in the South, in New Orleans, where guys torture you all the time. So I didn’t really grow up on the self-esteem campaign. When you were lousy at something, they told you you were lousy, and they told you how to fix it.”
— Wynton Marsalis

60. “We learn a language through its song, and even if you don’t have music you have the song of people you love’s voice, and you’ll notice that song in their voice.”
— Wynton Marsalis

61. “New Orleans – the real New Orleans – is the soul of the country.”
— Wynton Marsalis

62. “Everything about the swing is about some guideline and some grid and the elegant way that you negotiate your way through that grid.”
— Wynton Marsalis

63. “Louis Armstrong is jazz. He represents what the music is all about.”
— Wynton Marsalis

64. “The black hole in democracy is integrity. The great unspoken is integrity. When integrity is not first and foremost, it’s quite palpable but not visible. It’s always there. Jazz highlights it because musicians and jazz always represented a high level of integrity.”
— Wynton Marsalis

65. “I believe in professionalism, but playing is not like a job. You have to be grateful to have the opportunity to play.”
— Wynton Marsalis

66. “Through improvisation, jazz teaches you about yourself. And through swing, it teaches you that other people are individuals too. It teaches you how to coordinate with them.”
— Wynton Marsalis

67. “What is deeper than respect and love? That’s what we felt: veneration.”
— Wynton Marsalis

68. “I think that virtuosity is the first sign of morality in a musician. It means you’re serious enough to practice.”
— Wynton Marsalis

69. “In the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra we play such a diversity of music, with 10 arrangers in the band, we don’t really worry about whether it’s contemporary or not.”
— Wynton Marsalis

70. “The blues is always there. It’s going to be hard out here, but it’s all right. It’s all right, and that’s what the blues teaches you. You got to roll with the punches and find your equilibrium.”
— Wynton Marsalis

71. “The bandstand is a sacred place.”
— Wynton Marsalis

72. “The Duke and Swing represent affirmation in the face of adversity.”
— Wynton Marsalis

73. “Having heard Clifford Brown play all those fast runs, I used to really practice Clarke trumpet exercises all day long so that I could play fast. That’s all I wanted to do. I was like a child with a toy.”
— Wynton Marsalis

74. “Through first-class education, a generation marches down the long uncertain road of the future with confidence.”
— Wynton Marsalis

75. “Grace Kelly plays with intelligence, wit and feeling. She has a great amount of natural ability and the ability to adapt. That is the hallmark of a first-class jazz musician.”
— Wynton Marsalis

76. “Jazz is not just ‘Well, man, this is what I feel like playing.’ It’s a very structured thing that comes down from a tradition and requires a lot of thought and study.”
— Wynton Marsalis

77. “My schedule is always tight. But I like to have the pressure of having to finish doing something; it gives me an added edge.”
— Wynton Marsalis

78. “Commercialism that has absolutely no relationship to quality whatsoever, only quantitative assessment of a thing.”
— Wynton Marsalis

79. “The best way to be, is to do.”
— Wynton Marsalis

80. “Flexibility is an essential part of Jazz. It’s what gives Jazz music the ability to combine with all other types of music and not lose its identity.”
— Wynton Marsalis

81. “We all teach from that same frame of reference. We’re like neighborhood – the people who have had the opportunity through this music to gain a platform and spread the message of this music, which is basically love in a form of communication that’s honest and truthful.”
— Wynton Marsalis

82. “I wanted to make somebody feel like Coltrane made me feel, listening to it.”
— Wynton Marsalis

83. “There’s the tradition in jazz of having the Battle of the Bands, and you do not want to get your head cut when you’re playing.”
— Wynton Marsalis

84. “The blues. It runs through all American music. Somebody bending the note. The other is the two-beat groove. It’s in New Orleans music, it’s in jazz, it’s in country music, it’s in gospel.”
— Wynton Marsalis

85. “If you looked around, you’d be glad you couldn’t see.”
— Wynton Marsalis

86. “Milk in a mother’s breast-that’s cool. Milk in a mouth-that’s cool too. But milk in my trumpet? Not so cool. I have to play that thing.”
— Wynton Marsalis

87. “I never minded giving my opinions. They are just opinions, and I had studied music and I had strong feelings. I was happy for my opinions to join all the other opinions. But you have to be prepared for what comes back, especially if you don’t agree with the dominant mythology.”
— Wynton Marsalis

88. “My mother always took my brothers and me to music lessons. There were six children. Our parents attended our concerts and encouraged us to study and enjoy many different types of music.”
— Wynton Marsalis

89. “The arts speak across epochs. If you think that people started to build a cathedral in 1315 and the people worked on that cathedral, it wasn’t going to be finished until 1585. So they were thinking 200 years from now. Maybe by the time I die, this wall might be put up.”
— Wynton Marsalis

90. “Benny Goodman’s band was integrated before baseball. Even before it was physically integrated, music was integrated. Everyone listened to Armstrong and Ellington. The 20s was called the Jazz Age. It’s part of being American.”
— Wynton Marsalis

91. “No particular music makes me feel nostalgic. If it’s great, it just keeps me in the present moment. That level of music is like a classic story, like the Iliad-something so perfect it can never be old.”
— Wynton Marsalis

92. “Our culture is what we did together. What did Walt Whitman represent for all of us? What was his message to us? That is an inheritance, and when we squander that inheritance we act outside. We don’t know who we are; we don’t know where we are.”
— Wynton Marsalis

93. “We don’t have the leadership or the understanding of the value of this, and when your political systems and your economic systems start to fail, it’s only a cultural understanding that allows you to reconstruct them and to get back to who you are. For some reason, it hasn’t dawned on us yet.”
— Wynton Marsalis

94. “The people are not coming because of me. They didn’t come before me. It’s because of a lack of education and understanding, so it makes me more motivated. It’s like my mother said about having an artistic child – she learned more from him and he gets more attention and more of the love, not less.”
— Wynton Marsalis

95. “Jazz music creates so many phenomenal figures.”
— Wynton Marsalis

96. “When me and my brother would go to see our daddy playing, there’d be 30 people in the audience. I was only 14 or 15, but I realised something was wrong.”
— Wynton Marsalis

97. “Even in these times, there are still neighbors that will turn their backs on neighbors.”
— Wynton Marsalis

98. “We looked up to our father. He still is much greater than us.”
— Wynton Marsalis

99. “You don’t try to duplicate certain things that other cats do, because you could never do it as well as they do. Nobody can get on that tenor saxophone and play like Trane, because he’s the only one who can spell out chords and sound good when he does it.”
— Wynton Marsalis

100. “When I was 12, I began listening to John Coltrane and I developed a love for jazz, which I still have more and more each year.”
— Wynton Marsalis

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