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April 2024
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The trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, whom Tony Scherman interviews this month, has spent the last decade winning for jazz a permanent place in America’s cultural institutions, festivals, and concerts for young people. The latter inspired his four-part series Marsalis on Music , which airs on PBS beginning October 9. His aim is to share
music’s excitement and mysterious power with young audiences—joined by his own jazz orchestra as well as the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the conductor Seiji Ozawa leading the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Marsalis uses everything from a basketball and computer graphics to his own peerless horn to get his point across in the four segments—“Why Toes Tap: Wynton on Rhythm”; “Listening for Clues: Wynton on Form”; “Sousa to Satchmo: Wynton on the Jazz Band”; and “Tackling the Monster: Wynton on Practice” ( Marsalis on Music , Sony Classical Film & Video, four videocassettes, 220 minutes). The series has a companion book with its own CD, also called Marsalis on Music (W. W. Norton, 175 pages). Marsalis continues to take his music out on the road, as he convincingly describes in Sweet Swing Blues on the Road (with Frank Stewart, W. W. Norton, 191 pages), a book rich with photographs of the players on tour, part road diary and part master class. “We don’t play Dixieland,” Marsalis says. “We play New Orleans music.” He makes that point eloquently on Standard Time Vol. 3—“The Resolution of Romance” (Columbia, one CD), a recording of jazz standards made with his father, the pianist Ellis Marsalis; the Marsalises treat songs like “Big Butter and Egg Man” as if they were the latest, freshest thing. In This House, on This Morning (Columbia, two CDs) shows Marsalis’s more
expansive recent work as a composer for a jazz septet, in the swing spirit of another of his heroes, Duke Ellington. The ambitious, recent Citi Movement is also available from Columbia (two CDs). The unsung Paw Paw , the focus of Richard W. Kaeuper’s article, is one of many craft the naval historian Ivan Musicant covers in his new book Divided Waters: The Civil War at Sea (Harper-Collins, 496 pages). Musicant weaves together surviving accounts by Navy men while giving a masterful view of the U.S. Navy’s growth from Fort Sumter to the surrender.

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