Grammy-winning jazz great Wynton Marsalis is honored for his work on and off the stage with the Marian Anderson Award.
An ambassador for jazz, Wynton Marsalis is being honored for his commitment to education as well as his accomplishments as a performer.
When Wynton Marsalis receives the 2015 Marian Anderson Award at the Kimmel Center in November, it won’t only be because he plays a mean (but stately) trumpet. The 54-year-old composer—the self-ordained statesman for all that is American jazz—is “a great musician and educator, one who broadens our appreciation for jazz and works interactively with youth,” in the words of Marian Anderson Award board of directors chair Nina C. Tinari.
Pat Moran, president of the Marian Anderson Award, notes that all awardees—from Elizabeth Taylor to Quincy Jones—are chosen for strong critical acclaim over the course of a career coupled with long-term efforts that benefit society. The award itself was established to celebrate the legacy of Philadelphia-born opera singer Anderson: “She was unique for her determination to only perform in concert venues that provided equal access to all citizens regardless of race,” says Moran. “That determination was a catalyst for breaking color barriers in once-segregated venues throughout the country.” Marsalis, in Moran’s mind, is a perfect Anderson awardee for his role in educating audiences in the classical and jazz fields, and “through outstanding performances worldwide, at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and his commitment to education and mentoring.”
“Wynton is so deserving of the Anderson honor,” says Philadelphia jazz pianist Farid Barron. Currently a soloist who also plays alongside saxophonist Marshall Allen in the legendary local Sun Ra Arkestra, Barron started his career with Marsalis when the pianist was just barely out of Philly’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in 1989. “This was at the beginning of Marsalis’s fascination with Duke Ellington, something he still focuses on in his role as leader of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra,” says Barron, who first played Duke compositions on Marsalis’s 1999 album Big Train. “I was green when I met him, but he heard something in my sound that reminded him of Thelonious Monk. As for Wynton, he was at the height of his energies when we first got together. Inspiration just flowed through him. It looks like neither those energies or inspirations have ceased.” Tuesday, November 10, at 8:30 pm at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. 300 S. Broad St., 215-893-1999