Born in New Orleans, Wynton Marsalis – world-renown trumpeter, composer, educator, and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center – is a member of the “first family of jazz.” His father was a pianist and music professor. Four of the family’s six sons are musicians. In high school, Wynton played trumpet in lots of bands including the marching band, a funk band, a brass quintet, jazz bands and symphony orchestra. He studied classical and jazz and, at 17, was the youngest musician admitted to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center where he won an award for Outstanding Brass Student.
Marsalis found his voice studying early jazz performers and because of his love of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart pursued a classical career as well. As a result, he won Grammys for jazz and classical albums in the same year two years in a row. He has produced over 100 recordings. Throughout his career, he is known for bringing young musicians to jazz and promoting jazz and classical music to young audiences. In 1987, Marsalis helped start the Classical Jazz Summer Concert Series at Lincoln Center in New York City. The success of the series led to Jazz at Lincoln Center becoming a department and then its own independent organization.
Marsalis’ oratorio lood on the Fields was the first jazz work to win a Pulitzer Prize. He has composed a violin concerto, four symphonies, music for dancers, jazz ensembles, choirs and films.