Quincy Jones Calls Wynton Marsalis Out On His Musical Myopia

quincy-wynton.jpgAccording to the New York Daily News, Quincy Jones recently cited famed trumpeteer Wynton Marsalis as having a narrow-minded view of the varied musical landscape. Jones was quoted as saying "Wynton doesn't want to hear any other kind of music" and asserted that Marsalis won't allow his students to play any other kinds of music but his own type of Jazz. To add further insult, Jones said that all other trumpeters, himself included, have found inspiration from other greats but that "nobody wants to play like Wynton." Q's further gullyness was exemplified by him stating "[Wynton] knows how I feel." Oh snap!

When told about Quincy's rant, Wynton replied that nothing could be further from the truth. Marsalis claims that not only have they not ever had this conversation, but that he does encourage his students to play all kinds of music so that they can develop their own style and prejudices and not be subject to simply his own. But let's keep it real. Wynton not only stated that "Hip hop is a form of music for which I don't have much respect" in the same NYDN article, but that Jazz musicians should not be the ones who should be approaching the Hip Hop community for starting the dialogue between the two art forms. So while Wynton did elaborate on a project he and Jam Master Jay were collaborating on to have a DJ academy in Wynton's House of Swing, it can be expected that no one need ask when another collaborative effort will be in the works. 
The sad part of all of this is not the fact that Wynton Marsalis has an negative view of Hip Hop music. The sad part of all of this is the vice grip that Wynton Marsalis has on wanting to preserve the past by not being willing to accept that progress is a necessary part of any type of art form. Some have even argued that Wynton glorifies Jazz music's past at the expense of nearly eulogizing it. Change is a necessary and, yes, frightening part of life. But being only willing to entertain Hip Hop if its ambassadors come to you just smacks of ignorance. While I am inclined to agree with Wynton's view that Hip Hop has become "ghetto minstrelsy," he was referring to Hip Hop artists whose music would never even be mentioned on this website. And the Hip Hop artists who have the greatest reverence for Jazz music, those who have either created their own music without sampling or those who have successfully collaborated with Jazz musicians, will not want to have the opportunity to educate someone whose view of Hip Hop is still stuck in its early days when it was being argued that it was a fad. But yet the saddest thing about Wynton Marsalis is that he is the equivalent of Uncle Rico: unwilling to accept change and stuck in his glory days while the world continues to pass him by.
Quincy Jones: When it comes to hip hop, Wynton Marsalis blows it [NYDN]

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5 Responses

  1. That's always one of the pblms I've had with him. It's his myopic/my way or the highway approach to jazz. It's too bad. Good music is good music and that should be respected.

  2. it's about time someone spoke up about Wynton. dude turned me off a long time ago. who better than Q to son him?
    "Uncle Rico" . . . THAT, was brilliant.
    Branford whatup!

  3. In another blog someone used the phrase "old guy sitting on his porch yelling at kids". Wynton, god bless him, is that guy at times. I respect and feel a lot of his work, and his function as a educator and historian, but he can go ahead and leave hiphop alone. Treating him as The Word in jazz is as limited as viewing, idk, Lil Wayne as the be-all-end-all of hiphop. Both genres are bigger than that.
    We all know Digable, Tribe, Erykah, Common, Kanye pay much respect to the jazz they sample and reinterpret. And since at many of the jazz concerts I've watched featured artists redoing standards, tossing in sly snippets of other songs for their respective "heads" to catch. Like a dj's do. Also what enlivened non-straight ahead stuff was the incorporation of other sounds-- afro-latin beats, eastern sounds. The home of that kind of cultural intersection nowadays? Hiphop. If Wynton can't catch the similarities and at least respect if not love it, oh well. There's enough music makers and lovers that *do* get it.
    (Sorry this is so long, my man and I argue over Wynton all the time.)

  4. ill Mami makes some very valid points, but having met Wynton on several occasions which entailed some lengthy conversations about music, not to mention having experienced the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra live in concert on a number of occasions as well, he doesn't strike me at all as a generally close-minded person, and certainly not as it pertains to art. Wynton doesn't view any form of hip-hop as significant art, and as a grandly talented jazz and classical music composer, I certainly can't fault him for that perspective. I do know that Wynton's "young lions" movement of the eighties has been viewed way too literally by the public and press, as JALC often features progressive jazz, latin jazz and afro-beat acts during their season. IMO, the brotha is simply not a fan of hip-hop and quite frankly, I find it quite refreshing that he places hip-hop closer to it's rightful place within the artistic hiearchy of black-rooted music. But then, that's just me...

  5. I don't always agree w| Marsalis but he was on point when he said "'s incumbent on the hip-hop community to develop their own musical initiative...there is no need for a jazz person to be called upon to do it.