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Biofile with Wynton Marsalis

Biofile with Wynton Marsalis
Mark Scoop Malinowski By

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Nine-time Grammy Award-winning jazz performer.


October 18, 1961 In: New Orleans, LA


"Play basketball. I like to read. I like to play chess."

Favorite Movies:

"[Pause]...see, it's so many. Let me see if I can...any Hitchcock. Elie Kazan's. John Ford. [Pause]...favorite movies...there's so many good ones...I can't remember the name. It has Andy Griffith in it. He plays like a man of the people that becomes corrupted. [Marsalis calls a friend on phone for the name of movie]...A Face In The Crowd [1957]."

Favorite TV Shows:

"Never looked at TV like that...Monday Night Football [laughs]."

First Job:

"Cuttin' grass (age 8)."

First Car:


Early Performing Memory:

"I remember big dances, we used to play at New Orleans, a department store called Gaylord's, had open space at the top. Four bands set up, we'd play around the clock. Packed with people. Finest women in New Orleans. I was in high school—13 or 14."

Favorite Meal:


Favorite Breakfast Cereal:

"Grape Nut Flakes."

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:


Pre-Performance Feeling:

"Very natural. Just like I'm talking to you."

Greatest Career Moment:

"No. It's no moment. I've had so many. No moments, man, many great moments. Many."

Most Painful Moment:

"I've had many of them too [laughs]. Most painful moment...I'd say several of the most painful moments was somebody I was close to died before I talked to them. That happened to me two or three times."

Last Book Read:

"It's a book on King Leopold. About his conquest of the Belgian Congo. Into The Heart of Darkness." [Facing the Congo: A Modern-Day Journey into the Heart of Darkness (Three Rivers Press, 2001), by Jeffrey Tayler]

Song(s) or Album(s) Most Proud Of:

"I think everything. I'm very serious about whatever I do. So I don't know. Some stuff comes out better than other stuff but I work hard on all of it."

Performance You Were At Your Very Best:

"No. I never know."

Childhood Dream:

"To be either a chemist or a basketball player."

Favorite Vacation Spot:

"I never go on vacation."

Musical Tastes:

"I like Beethoven. I like Bach. I like Duke Ellington."

Favorite Live Performers:

"Marcus Roberts—a great pianist from Florida. Many great jazz musicians like Hank Jones—phenomenal. A lot like that, a lot of people."

People Qualities Most Admired:

"Integrity. Humor. Empathy for other people. Originality—like don't really give a **** what other people think. But with empathy too."

Career Accomplishments:

At 14 was invited to perform with the New Orleans Philharmonic; Attended Julliard School of Music; Toured with Herbie Hancock throughout USA and Japan; Has performed with Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Edison, Clark Terryy, Sonny Rollins, Has sold nearly 5,000,000 copies of his recordings worldwide, Nine-time Grammy Award-winner.

Photo Credit

Rob Waymen


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