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Wynton Marsalis: The Marciac Suite
Article added on October 11, 2000

Wynton Marsalis Septet: The Marciac Suite, Columbia/Sony. Get the CD from or - Sheet music by Wynton Marsalis.
The Marciac Suite is named after Marciac, the small French village with 1300 inhabitants which hosts, since the late 1970s, an annual jazz festival. Born thanks to the initiative of the local major and principal of Marciac's collège, Louis Guillhaumon, it started with trumpeter Bill Coleman and tenor saxophonist Guy Laffite, both of whom lived in the region. Today, the festival attracts more than 100,000 people during ten days in August. Wynton Marsalis has been part of it every summer since 1991. He also taught master classes there. In 1997, Guillhaumon commemorated the bond with Wynton by commissioning a life-sized bronze statute of the trumpeter from sculptor Daphne du Barry. Marsalis reciprocated that tribute composing The Marciac Suite. The over 76 minute long suite is a 13 part composition. It ranges from ballads such as Mademoiselle D'Gascony to the carnivalesque and circus-like Marciac Fun, which compose, together with Jean-Louis Is Everywhere and the final Sunflowers, with its underlying basic, simple rhythm, the highlights of the suite. Wynton Marsalis often gets accused of being "retro", not up-to-date, playing a nostalgic type of jazz. Okay, it may not be "avant-garde", whatever that is, but as long as he composes works of quality and plays with great musicians as on this CD, recorded in 1999, it doesn't matter.
P.S. For people who do not have the money or the will to buy the sensational Live At The Village Vanguard eight CD boxed set, there is a one CD alternative: Selections From The Village Vanguard. Get the CD from, Get the entire boxed set from,,

For people who want to know more about Wynton Marsalis, I can recommend the book Sweet Swing Blues On The Road by the man himself, with photographs by Frank Stewart (W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1994. Get it from or; the German version on which these lines are based and where the photographs come from: Hoffmann und Campe, Hamburg, 1995. Get it from Wynton Marsalis makes some funny remarks about trumpet players and their relation to their instrument. He presents the members of his Septet and gives some insight into life on the road. He makes comments on politics and music in general and gives his definition of jazz: Jazz is blues, and it has to swing all the time. Jazz teaches you to think over a time span longer than 25 seconds. According to Marsalis, jazz critics celebrate new forms, which are not based on the foundations of jazz, as innovations. But, according to him, no new jazz style will emerge if one avoids the difficulties of this type of music. He also states that musicians like Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, Steve Coleman, Miles Davis and others said themselves that they do/did not play jazz and that they were right. In the lengthy discussion with a teenager, Wynton Marsalis also says that he does not play Dixieland, but New Orleans music, which makes use of the idiomatic means of jazz: riffs, breaks, vamp and response, solos, grooves, polyphonic improvisation as well as the chorus format. In jazz, one can listen to entire groups engaging in a dialogue with each other. Jazz is a musical interplay of an improvised groove on melodies, harmonies, rhythms and textures, which are based on the blues. Wynton Marsalis asserts that (jazz) purists have no money, no power and no organ to diffuse their opinion and to have influence. That is of course an understatement, to put it mildly, since Wynton Marsalis is one of the most respected and most influential musicians and surely one of the best paid musicians in jazz. Nobody can force me, the reviewer, to chose between Wynton Marsalis and John Zorn, between Diana Krall and Dave Douglas. There is only one criteria to apply: there is good music and there is bad music, whether you call it jazz or not. Check also the JazzTimes of March 2000 on the debate about the essence of jazz, with extensive interviews with Wynton Marsalis and his stylistic antipode, John Zorn. - Sheet music by Wynton Marsalis.
Added on December 13, 2002 (moved here from Cosmopolis no. 1, December 1999):
Wynton Marsalis: Wynton. 1999 inakustik INAK

is a re-release of the concert given by Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers at Art Blakey's 61st birthday party at Bubba's Jazz Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on October 11, 1980. Unfortunately, there are only about 38 minutes of this first class mainstream jazz. Wynton and his father, pianist Ellis Marsalis, had the chance to play with hardpop drummer Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers on this memorable occasion, one of the best schools in jazz. On Marsalis, you can hear Wynton and his father together with Art Blakey, Bobby Watson, Jimmy Williams, Billy Pierce and Charles Famborough.
The 1961 born trompeter Wynton, brother of saxophone player Brandford and son of teacher Ellis Marsalis, played funk and fusion as a kid. After the Art Blakey experience, that ended in 1983, he toured with Herbie Hancock and got his first Grammy for his jazz album Wynton Marsalis. He is a controversial figure since he looks back to trompeters like Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown or Clark Terry. In his eyes, the free jazz and other avantgarde got lost in a dead-end. In 1987, Wynton was able to establish the series Jazz At Lincoln Centre, "that holy grail of American advanced culture". As its artistic director, he could choose the contents of the concerts and ignored systematically contemporary jazz influenced by rock and funk. Wynton Marsalis demanded strict swing. That got him a lot of criticism that only calmed down at the end of the 90s when an Educational Department was added to the Lincoln Centre and its orchestra with its workshops in the whole of the country got USA-wide recognition. Wynton Marsalis has recorded a whole series of new CDs in 1999 (Swing into the 21st).

Sheet Music Plus Classical

Wynton Marsalis in Marciac, France. Photograph: Sweet Swing
Blues (photo copyright Frank Stewart).

Wynton Marsalis. Photograph: Sweet Swing Blues
(photo copyright Frank Stewart).