Monday, December 1, 2008

Wynton Marsalis: "Moving to Higher Ground"

Several weeks ago I finished reading Wynton Marsalis' recent book "Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life". The book was not intended to be a primer on jazz but rather a means of looking and listening to jazz in such a way as to apply it to all aspects of life.

I read the book with a novice's perspective and truly enjoyed it. This is a book that both aficionados and neophytes will find useful and refreshing. There was information for the newcomer in how to listen and enjoy jazz but the most interesting material was that related to using the creativity and improvisation of jazz and applying it to life in general.

I have to concur with the excellent commentary on the book jacket provided by Maya Angelou:

“Wynton Marsalis is absolutely the person who should write this book. Here he is, as young as morning, as fresh as dew, and already called one of the jazz greats. He is not only a seer and an exemplary musician, but a poet as well. He informs us that jazz was created, among other things, to expose the hypocrisy and absurdity of racism and other ignorances in our country. Poetry was given to human beings for the same reason. This book could be called “How Love Can Change Your Life,” for there could be no jazz without love. By love, of course, I do not mean mush, or sentimentality. Love can only exist with courage, and this book could not be written without Wynton Marsalis’s courage. He has the courage to make powerful music and to love the music so, that he willingly shares its riches with the entire human family. We are indebted to him.”
–Maya Angelou

If anyone can sum up in words what jazz means, it is Marsalis. And if anyone can sum up what Marsalis is and has accomplished here, it is Angelou.

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