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Wynton Marsalis Speaks Out

By Published: February 27, 2004
WM: I think that's an element of my music, and an element of life. But if I remember you were in your grandmother's house. So you bring something to her house too. It's not just all her. She's giving that down home feeling and that remembrance of who you are and you're bringing that energy and exuberance. When you cut the youth off from the older people and you sell them ideas like the generation gap, it's always been very curious to me how easy it is to exploit younger people and their sexuality. That's something that's happened in our country for the past forty years. That's why our musical arts, and our arts in general, are in such a decline. Once you believe in this kind of thing and buy into this idea of a youth-driven culture, you've bought into one of the greatest fallacies ever perpetrated on a group of younger people: that you have to be removed from older people in order to express your youth. They bring a wisdom and an understanding to you, and you bring an exuberance to them. When those groups have been separated'like the have been in our country for commercial reasons'you end up with what has happened in our country, which is a decline in the arts and a decline in consciousnesses of our younger people, and an exploitation of them and their sexuality.

AAJ: Is that why you emphasize traditional and connection to traditional elements?

WM: No, I talk about traditional things because that's the reality. All education talks about traditional things. It doesn't make a difference if you're talking about music, or medicine, or aeronautics. To really understand what you are studying you're gonna deal with the tradition of that thing. That's what knowing about it is.

AAJ: By separating that out, we've created a culture with a one quarter memory that only knows about the latest item to purchase.

WM: Right. That's why when the fascists come in and take over they burn books. They don't want you to remember. Never forget that the Third Reich was called The New Order.

AAJ: Do you think something similar is happening here based on commerciality?

WM: Well I'm not going to say it's the same as the Third Reich'

AAJ: No, I mean'

WM: But in terms of separating people from who they are so you can sell anything to them, I know that's what's going on.

AAJ: What can we do to mitigate against that trend?

WM: Bring the kids to the shows. Not just jazz, but the arts in general. I don't see younger people at anything of value. I don't see enough younger people with their parents at museums, at ballets, at all the arts. We need to invest our time and energy with our kids in things that are development-oriented.

AAJ: I think we should close right there so I can let you get back to your trip. I know you are very busy.

WM: All right, boss. You take care.

AAJ: Thank you and thanks again for your time.

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