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Book Excerpts

Traditional New Orleans Jazz, Conversations with the Men Who Make the Music

By Published: October 24, 2011
TJ: What does it feel like to be part of the NOCCA tradition that produced the likes of the Marsalises, Jordans, Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
and Nicholas Payton?

IM: Man, it's rough. You have to be really serious. You can't do it for the money, you can't do it for the fame. You'd better be in it for the music. You feel good because you're a part of it, but then it's, like, I better contribute something to this music or...

TJ: Do you feel pressure?

IM: Do I feel pressure? God... If I can get Jason to respect what I'm doing, I feel great. These people are not just educated musically. If you talk to Nicholas, he's an internationally educated person. I have so much to learn. I could talk all day about NOCCA. It's an inspiration. I don't want to just die and leave, some guy who was here. I want to contribute something to the music, and that's really hard. That's why I'm always in these controversies. If you get to know what people think about me in the brass band area, I'm controversial, man. I'm not going to condone anything that people allow themselves to be complacent. I'm not like that. You look at these brass bands—I'm talking about all these [new] brass bands...

TJ: You don't think they're working hard enough at their craft?

IM: Working hard enough? They haven't started working yet! You pick up an instrument, you get a gig, you go to Europe—you know, this is life... You're not going to tell me that somebody who picks up a trumpet in one year can learn a certain scale and go out there and try to improvise and people call him a musician. Those people are not musicians. Nicholas is a musician. Ellis Marsalis
Ellis Marsalis
Ellis Marsalis
is a musician. Adonis Rose is a musician. I'm not tolerating that, man. People are still telling me to get something to fall back on. I'm not accepting it, man. I'm going to do this.

I was at a wedding, and someone asked Wynton, "How can I break into the music business?" Wynton says, "Break into a practice room." People need to work harder at what they do. Why would you ask me to come into a club and play, you know, and not be serious?

When I went to NOCCA there were no bells in the classroom. You did not have to go to class...because learning did not start in that classroom and it did not end in that classroom. And practicing hasn't ended yet, now. I'm practicing mentally all the time, thinking three or four things at one time. That's the thing about NOCCA, man. It's rough, but you begin to love it because you realize what it is.

Learn more about Traditional New Orleans Jazz: Conversations With the Men Who Make the Music. © 2011, Thomas W. Jacobsen

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