Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Learson Marsalis is a trumpeter, composer, bandleader, music educator, and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Marsalis has promoted the appreciation of Classical and Jazz music often to young audiences. Marsalis has been awarded nine Grammys in both genres, and was awarded the first Pulitzer Prize for Music for a jazz recording. #


  • Invest yourself in everything you do. There’s fun in being serious.

  • Don’t bullshit’ just play.

  • Some stances are just conducive to swinging. If I stand up straight for too long it’s harder to swing. Plus my feet hurt.

  • So I believed in studying just because I knew that education was a privilege. And it wasn’t so much necessarily the information that you were studying, but just the discipline of study, to get into the habit of doing something that you don’t want to do, to receive the information . . .

  • This is our bandstand. If you don’t want to play, get up off the instrument and leave.

  • Sustained intensity equals ecstacy.

  • One thing about excellence, it’s an exclusive club. And it’s only for those who really want to pay dues to the shit. My daddy told me when I was a boy, The only way you can be different from other people is to do some shit they don’t want to do?

  • As long as there is democracy, there will be people wanting to play jazz because nothing else will ever so perfectly capture the democratic process in sound. Jazz means working things out musically with other people. You have to listen to other musicians and play with them even if you don’t agree with what they’re playing. It teaches you the very opposite of racism and anti-Semitism. It teaches you that the world is big enough to accommodate us all.

  • The bandstand is a sacred place.

  • The Duke and Swing represent affirmation in the face of adversity.

  • Trumpet players are just belligerant, and cocky, and you know, just hard-headed.

  • But you listen to Coltrane and that’s something human, something that’s about elevation. It’s like making love to a woman. It’s about something of value, it’s not just loud. It doesn’t have that violent connotation to it. I wanted to be a jazz musician so bad, but I really couldn’t. There was no way I could figure out to learn how to play.

  • A beat is a moment in the life a groove.

  • Try to find the best teachers, listen to the finest playing, and try to emulate that. Be true to the music.

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