Blowing His Own in New York; City Dapper Prize-Winning Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis Talks to Jackie Cooperman before Presiding over Next Week's Opening of the World's Most Spectacular Jazz Concert Hall

The Evening Standard (London, England), October 15, 2004 | Go to article overview

Blowing His Own in New York; City Dapper Prize-Winning Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis Talks to Jackie Cooperman before Presiding over Next Week's Opening of the World's Most Spectacular Jazz Concert Hall


Byline: JACKIE COOPERMAN

I NEVER imagined I'd get to a place like this," says Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, which inaugurates its $128 million, 9,000 square metre Frederick P Rose Hall on Monday. Marsalis grew up in New Orleans, playing with his brother, the saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and his father, the pianist Ellis Marsalis. He arrived in New York in 1979 as a trumpet prodigy studying at Lincoln Center's Juilliard School.

"It's a sign that our culture has matured that we can respect an American art form," he says. "It's also a sign of an abatement of racism."

Over the past two decades, Marsalis has lobbied to get jazz on an equal footing with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. As director of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, he has spearheaded a push to bring jazz into American schools.

Now it has a home to rival the world's greatest concert halls.

Marsalis has recorded dozens of albums, received Grammys and a Pulitzer in classical and jazz composition and 29 honorary degrees from universities including Princeton and Yale. The new hall encapsulates Marsalis's approach to music.

"We want to bring people together in the spirit of jazz," he says. "The acoustics are designed for a rhythm section, for the cymbals to be sounding at the same time as the bass."

Designed by architect Rafael Vinoly, the hall has three spaces, each of which will host dance, opera, theatre, film and orchestra performances. The Rose Theater seats up to 1,231 but feels intimate. Marsalis's orchestra will walk among the audience.

The most spectacular space, The Allen Room, has a 27-metre glass wall overlooking Central Park. A 140-seat jazz club will feature dining and jam sessions. The hall also has classrooms, recording studios, rehearsal space and a jazz hall of fame. …

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