Wynton Marsalis swings by Martha’s Vineyard

Wynton Marsalis swings by Martha’s Vineyard

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Master jazz trumpet player Wynton Marsalis at the Tabernacle last summer. — Photo by Ayano Hisa

Wynton Marsalis, the New Orleans-born jazz and classical trumpet player, bandleader, educator, and tireless advocate for jazz music, will play with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Saturday evening at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs.

The concert begins at 5:30 pm, and for the second year in a row, it promises to be a soaring jazz performance by one of the world’s most accomplished musicians. In a phone interview with The Times Monday, Mr. Marsalis said he loved playing at the Tabernacle last year.

“It’s open, it has a deep community feeling,” Mr. Marsalis said. “You can feel the warmth of the people. It’s a lot of fun to play there. The evening glows.”

This year the renowned musician plans a program that will highlight the music of Duke Ellington. “There’s no greater music to be associated with,” he said. “We want to start an annual all-Duke concert. The Vineyard is a perfect place for a festival of Duke’s music.”

Duke for kids

On Friday morning at 11 am, Mr. Marsalis and members of the orchestra will conduct a jazz concert for young Island musicians. For those under age 18, it’s free; for those older, there is a $20 fee. The event is at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s Performing Arts Center. It will include an educational talk mixed with music from Mr. Marsalis, who is a gifted and inspiring speaker.

“Young people need a knowledge of Duke and his methods, his philosophy,” Mr. Marsalis said. “He said ‘be a number one yourself, not a number two somebody else.'”

Masterful musician

It is difficult to imagine a musician who has achieved more recognition for his work than Mr. Marsalis. Start with a Pulitzer Prize, add nine Grammy awards, blend in 31 honorary degrees, stir in countless performances with the greatest jazz groups and classical orchestras of his generation, and you have a recipe for one of the most influential and respected musicians in U.S. history.

In 1987, he co-founded a jazz program at Lincoln Center in New York. Nine years later the center made the jazz department a full program on par with cultural organizations including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York City Ballet, and the Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Marsalis remains the managing and artistic director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Vineyard vibe

Frank Stewart, CEO of Black Lion productions, is promoting the concert. An associate of Mr. Marsalis for nearly three decades, he said he saw an untapped market for jazz performance here on the Vineyard. He said Mr. Marsalis made an instant connection with the crowd at last year’s sold-out event.

“He wanted to come back,” Mr. Stewart said. “He knows the crowd, he loved the vibe. About half the crowd was African-American. We only get that in three or four cities around the world. That was a good turnout.”

Jazz at Lincoln with Wynton Marsalis, 5:30 pm, Tabernacle, Oak Bluffs. $35-$500. Doors open at 5 pm. For more information, visit treasuresatdusk.com.