Wynton Marsalis has managed to get himself in the news a lot the last week or so. First he spoke at the National Press Club about “an entire generation of Americans who are culturally ignorant”. Although I have issues with Wynton (see below) he made some excellent points in his speech. Like pointing out that many a school band doesn’t play jazz and classical music, but rather watered down versions of pop songs. My man MaoXian highlighted parts of the speech and also points to a video of the speech (55 minutes of RealMedia) – there’s also a full transcript available (PDF):
“As Americans, it’s more important than ever that we have a sense of our identity. When you look at a Stuart Davis painting, or listen to Charlie Parker play the saxophone, or watch an Arthur Miller play, you are living an important part of the American experience … We need a generation of diplomats who understand and take pride in our culture, and can share it with others.”
“The power of great music is timeless. That’s why it remains an indispensable tool for teaching our youngsters … Music is one of the few things that transcends the boundaries of race, class, religion, and geography that too often divide us.”
“Can you imagine a society where no one had an appreciation of music, or theater, or art? Where no one could perform, everybody’s lip-synching? Nobody could teach? Well believe me, that’s the direction we’re heading.”
“Playing in an ensemble teaches you more about good citizenship than I don’t know what.”
He also made some great points during the Q&A session. In regard to the issues around file sharing he said that CDs are over-priced and more emphasis should be placed on live performances (where the real money is made for most artists). He also addressed the images that young people are bombarded with through the media. (Can we please stop using the word ‘nigga’ on record? Not to mention all the other ish. But that’d be a great place to start.)
“I listen to any kind of folk music,” Marsalis said. He doesn’t listen to rap and hip-hop, which he described with one word: ignorant.
“Rhythms have to have a meaning,” he said. “If the rhythm is corrupt, the music is corrupt and the people become corrupt.
“It’s not always something you can see. But as you watch and listen, the ignorance will become clear to you.”
I can’t believe that his brother Branford (Buckshot LeFonque) still hasn’t beaten any sense into Wynton’s head with respect to hip-hop. Of course there’s a good amount of ignorance in hip-hop, but there’s also plenty of good, innovative music. He could simply listen to some of his brother’s projects to recognize that. I wonder if Wynton realizes that he’s casting the exact same aspersions upon hip-hop that were cast upon jazz music back in the day.
(originally posted on Move the Crowd)Powered by Sidelines