National Artist Spotlight: Wynton Marsalis



Wynton Marsalis Performing at The Tulsa Performing Arts Center Friday Oct 2nd!

Wynton Marsalis is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of American culture. He is the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to bebop to modern jazz. By creating and performing an expansive range of brilliant new music for quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras, tap dance to ballet, Wynton has expanded the vocabulary for jazz and created a vital body of work that places him among the world’s finest musicians and composers.

Early Years: Wynton was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 18, 1961, to Ellis and Dolores Marsalis, the second of six sons. At age eight Wynton performed traditional New Orleans music in the Fairview Baptist Church band and at 14 he performed with the New Orleans Philharmonic, New Orleans Symphony Brass Quintet, New Orleans Community Concert Band, New Orleans Youth Orchestra, New Orleans Symphony, various jazz bands and with the popular local funk band, the Creators. At age 17 Wynton became the youngest musician ever to be admitted to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center. Despite his youth, he was awarded the school’s prestigious Harvey Shapiro Award for outstanding brass student. Wynton moved to New York City to attend Juilliard in 1979.

In 1980 Wynton seized the opportunity to join the Jazz Messengers to study under master drummer and bandleader Art Blakey. It was from Blakey that Wynton acquired his concept for bandleading and for bringing intensity to each and every performance. In the years to follow Wynton performed with Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Sweets Edison, Clark Terry, Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and countless other jazz legends.

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The San Francisco Examiner stated, “Marsalis’ orchestral arrangements are magnificent. Duke Ellington’s shadings and themes come and go but Marsalis’ free use of dissonance, counter rhythms and polyphonics is way ahead of Ellington’s mid-century era.” Wynton extended his achievements in Blood On The Fields with All Rise, an epic composition for big band, gospel choir, and symphony orchestra which was performed by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Kurt Masur along with the Morgan State University Choir and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (December 1999).

Marsalis collaborated with Ghanaian master drummer Yacub Addy to create Congo Square, a groundbreaking composition combining elegant harmonies from America’s jazz tradition with fundamental rituals in African percussion and vocals (2006). For the anniversary of the Abyssinian Baptist Church’s 200th year of service, Marsalis blended Baptist choir cadences with blues accents and big band swing rhythms to compose Abyssinian 200: A Celebration, which was performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Abyssinian’s 100 voice choir before packed houses in New York City (May 2008).

In the fall of 2009 the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra premiered Marsalis’ composition Blues Symphony. Marsalis further expanded his repertoire for symphony orchestra with Swing Symphony, premiered by the renowned Berlin Philharmonic in June 2010. The New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Barbican have all signed on to perform Swing Symphony…

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Denny Morouse Band Featuring Annie Ellicott at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame


Denny Morouse Band Features Annie Ellicott in Sunday Father’s Day Show


For world-class saxophonist Denny Morouse, Sunday’s Jazz Depot concert is a chance to pay tribute to the man who got him started on the road that would lead to stages and recording studios shared with Michael Jackson, Art Blakey, Stevie Wonder, Etta James, and John Lennon – among many others.

“My father was really a great musician, and in the ’30s and early ’40s, he had a radio show in Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania],” Morouse says. “He played banjo, trumpet, baritone, and button accordion. His grandfather was from Slovenia, and my dad was very well-known for playing Slovenian folk music; he taught me some of that when I was about six.

“We were a musical family, and we were a poor family, but my father would buy instruments and have people overhaul them. Then he’d sell them at a profit. That way, you could get an instrument cheaper than buying one at a store.”

Growing up in a small Pennsylvania town south of Pittsburgh called South Park, Morouse was first attracted to the drums, playing them from the age of six until about 12, when he took up the sax. He became a professional musician at 14, eventually leaving home to tour with the noted jazz drummer Art Blakey. In 1972, he replaced David Sanborn in Stevie Wonder’s band; as both saxophonist and bandleader, he toured internationally with Wonder for the next three years.

His many other notable jobs include working on John Lennon’s 1975 golden-oldies album, Rock ‘n’ Roll.

“It was just basic rock ‘n’ roll, and I thought, `Nothing to it,'” he recalls. “We just made up the horn lines for him. I remember him coming into the studio, wearing a sheriff’s badge.”

Morouse moved to Tulsa in 2010, and, as he notes, immediately “started going around listening to everybody in town and sitting in and stuff.” After several people told him he needed to take in a young vocalist named Annie Ellicott, he finally caught her act at the late Brookside club and restaurant, Ciao.

“I knew right when I heard her sing her first four bars that she had `It’ – capital I-t,” he says. “You know when someone has It, and she did. I just had to go up and say, `Man, Annie, you’ve got It. You’re great.'”annie e 4

He ended up working with Ellicott several times, taking her to New York to record a couple of songs for his current disc, Dancing with You after You’ve Gone. He’ll have some of those CDs for sale at Sunday’s show. He’ll also have Ellicott herself; after moving to the Bay Area earlier this year, she’s back in town for Father’s Day.

As is the case with Morouse, Ellicott’s dad is a musician. He’s bassist Rod Ellicott, internationally known for his work with the jazz-rock band Cold Blood.

“So we can celebrate that, too,” Morouse says. “This is going to be a tribute to our fathers.”

Slated to join Morouse and Ellicott Sunday are drummer Michael Bremo and bassist-guitarist Stephen Schultz.

“Jim Rhea, from the Jazz Hall board, told me there was a new drummer in town,” Morouse says. “I went to hear him, and hearing him for the first time was like hearing Annie Ellicott. He’s got It. I’ve been thinking about using him for a long period of time, and the opportunity finally came up.

“He’s young,” adds Morouse, “a really great young drummer about 25 years old. He’s from the island of Aruba, and he’s spent time playing in Europe and New York City. He works with this young saxophone player named Alex Han.

“Michael recommended Stephen Schultz, and he’s really an amazing bass player. They’re both studying music at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. Michael’s working on his master’s degree in music, and I think Stephen is an undergraduate. They both play first chair in the jazz band down there, and they’re both just really sweet people – and serious about life, you know.”

The Denny Morouse Band featuring Annie Ellicott is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, June 15, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street.

Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, from, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.

The Father’s Day show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2014 Summer Concert Series.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame


Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers Moanin’

Live In Belgium 1958
Art Blakey Drums – Lee Morgan Trumpet – Benny Golson Sax Tenor – Bobby Timmons Piano – Jymie Merritt Bass

Moanin’ is a jazz album by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, recorded in 1958.

This was Blakey’s first album for Blue Note in several years, after a period of recording for a miscellany of labels, and marked both a homecoming and a fresh start. Originally the LP was self-titled, but the instant popularity of the bluesy opening track “Moanin'” (by pianist Bobby Timmons) led to its becoming known by that title. The rest of the originals are by saxophonist Benny Golson (who wasn’t with the Jazz Messengers for very long, this being the only American album on which he is featured). “Are You Real?” is a propulsive thirty-two-bar piece with a four-bar tag, featuring strong two-part writing for Golson and trumpeter Lee Morgan; “Along Came Betty” is a more lyrical, long-lined piece, almost serving as the album’s ballad. “The Drum Thunder Suite” is a feature for Blakey, in three movements, or themes: “Drum Thunder”; “Cry a Blue Tear” (with a Latin feel); and “Harlem’s Disciples”. “Blues March” calls on the feeling of the New Orleans marching bands, and the album finishes on its only standard, an unusually brisk reading of “Come Rain or Come Shine”. Of the originals on the album, all but the “Drum Thunder Suite” became staples of the Messengers book, even after Timmons and Golson were gone.

The album stands as one of the archetypal hard bop albums of the era, for the intensity of Blakey’s drumming and the work of Morgan, Golson and Timmons, and for its combination of old-fashioned gospel and blues influences with a sophisticated modern jazz sensibility. The album was identified by Scott Yanow in his Allmusic essay “Hard Bop” as one of the 17 Essential Hard Bop Recordings.[2] Above information courtesy of Wikipedia.

cdcovers/art blakey/moanin'.jpg

cdcovers/art blakey/moanin’.jpg (Photo credit: exquisitur)

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