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Wynton Marsalis is a musician, composer, bandleader, educator and a national treasure. He is the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to bebop to modern jazz. He will perform March 6 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
Marsalis was born in New Orleans, La. in 1961. At age eight, he performed traditional New Orleans music in the Fairview Baptist Church band, led by legendary banjoist Danny Barker, and at 14, he performed with the New Orleans Philharmonic.
At age 17, Marsalis became the youngest musician ever to be admitted to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center. He assembled his own band in 1981, performing more than 120 concerts every year for 15 consecutive years.
Marsalis’ love of the music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and others drove him to pursue a career in classical music, as well. He recorded the Haydn, Hummel and Leopold Mozart trumpet concertos at age 20. His debut recording received positive reviews and won the Grammy Award for “Best Classical Soloist with an Orchestra.”
Marsalis went on to record 10 additional classical records, all to critical acclaim. He performed with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, The Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and London’s Royal Philharmonic, working with an eminent group of conductors including Raymond Leppard, Charles Dutoit, Lorin Maazel, Leonard Slatkin, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Michael Tilson Thomas.
To date, Marsalis has produced more than 70 records, which have sold more than seven million copies worldwide, including three Gold Records. He has also written five books.
The dance community embraced Marsalis’ inventiveness by awarding him with commissions to create new music for Garth Fagan, Peter Martins at the New York City Ballet, Twyla Tharp at the American Ballet Theatre, Judith Jamison at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Savion Glover.
Marsalis collaborated with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society in 1995 to compose the string quartet At The Octoroon Balls, and again in 1998 to create a response to Stravinsky’s, “A Soldier’s Tale” with his composition, “A Fiddler’s Tale.”
Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards. In 1983, he became the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical records; and he repeated the distinction by winning jazz and classical Grammy Awards again in 1984.
Marsalis will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25-$95 and are available at 988-1234 or online at ticketssantafe.org.