“Improvisation, swing, and the blues. If those three elements are present, you have Jazz.” A new video highlights the profound impact of jazz musician Wynton Marsalis on students, faculty, and the public during his weeklong visit to campus last spring.
Marsalis, an Andrew Dickson White Professor-at-Large, sat in on rehearsals, visited classes,and lectured throughout the week. “I try to expose my students to a broader awareness of things I’ve learned through the years,” Marsalis said. “The bulk of what I’m really trying to do is teach how to use your power to make your performing better. My job is to give you different tools, and you can use those tools how you see fit, ‘cause this is your time, and I want to empower you to use your time how you want to use it.”
“Having Mr. Marsalis come and having the opportunity to play with him was one of the high points of my musical career,” said Thomas Nyul ‘19. “He’s played with the greats, he knew them personally, so he brings all of that together when he plays.”
During the week, Cornell students joined Marsalis at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School to work with young musicians. “I love the way you were playing, I love the intensity, the intention, the way you were dedicated to playing the beat, little things you tried to add,” Marsalis told one student. “In the break I loved your attitude, the infectious way you played.”
His visit was capped with a collaborative concert with the Cornell Jazz Band and Wind Symphony March 28 in Bailey Hall, which featured the Cornell Symphony Orchestra playing a new arrangement of Marsalis’ “Blues Symphony”.
“I’m gonna remember most his ability to connect with different people,” Nyul said. “The capacity to be an amazing player, but also use all that knowledge and expertise to teach us.”