Legend Wynton Marsalis plays at The Granada, showcases parallels of life and music
Adjustment, listening, communication. These are lessons that embody the meaning of both life and jazz, renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra expressed Friday.
“Jazz has a meaning. It’s American music, and it represents our democratic way of governing and our way of life,” said Mr. Marsalis, pointing to form, expression and a willingness to work together as themes in both life and jazz.
“Jazz is important because it can help us to better understand how our way of life is put together and how we can maintain and even improve it,” he said.
Mr. Marsalis and members of his band took turns explaining the intricacies of jazz and its relatability, speaking to more than 2,400 elementary and secondary education students in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties via live stream.
While those students watched on their computers, the presentation was given to UCSB “The History of Jazz” students visiting The Granada Friday morning. The program was coordinated by UCSB Arts & Lectures.
Mr. Marsalis deftly guided the audience and his band through the various forms of jazz, highlighting the parallels of freedom, responsibility, and adaptedness in music and life.
Mr. Marsalis, a New Orleans native, said often the “most elusive” point of jazz is balance from honest and constructive communication.
By working together Friday, the musicians showed how jazz could invoke feelings, protagonists and villains. They tinkered with sections of a piece, showcasing a variety in the emotion it could invoke, before exhibiting the music’s culmination.
“Jazz gives you an opportunity to develop a relationship between you and a larger group. It teaches you flexibility and resilience,” Mr. Marsalis said. “You need those things to survive.”
From a venerable jazz family, Mr. Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards, according to his biography, and became the first person to win a Grammy for both jazz and classical music in the same year. He is also the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
After the performance, Mr. Marsalis told UCSB students that “music is in a difficult place because the country is in a difficult place.” But he stressed “our future is good” because music can be healing and musicians are dedicated to their craft.
Mr. Marsalis and his band, who performed Friday night during a UCSB Arts & Lectures concert at The Granada, are on tour. He said they toured as much as possible throughout the pandemic.