Trumpeter Marsalis Leads PA Jazz Musicians in Concert

Known across the globe for his amazing musical talent and enthusiasm for education, renowned jazz trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis paid the Phillips Academy campus a visit this past Thursday. Organized by the Music Department and funded by a Kayden Grant, the stay included special workshops with students and a live concert in Cochran Chapel yesterday evening. Marsalis began his visit to campus with a 90-minute workshop with members of Andover’s Jazz Ensembles. The school’s most accomplished swing musicians also presented a selection of works by Duke Ellington for critique by the renowned artist. A lifelong devotee of Ellington’s music and dedication to establishing jazz as a recognized genre, Marsalis offered tips on how Andover students could change their own playing to mirror that of its original composer. “Working with Marsalis was a very engaging experience,” said saxophonist in the Academy’s Jazz Band Robert Kim ’05. “He offered unique insights on the methods he employs for musical expression.” Following the student workshop, Marsalis and his septet presented a full-length concert to members of the Andover community. Although admission to the concert was free for all Phillips Academy students, the event was ticketed because of space constraints, and only two tickets were available to each student. Dozens of students who missed the initial distribution of the tickets lined up outside the Chapel, hoping to gain admittance to the performance. The concert opened with a brief, half-hour performance by the Jazz Ensembles, showcasing the skills they had practiced during the workshop with one of music’s most accomplished artists. After the student performances, Marsalis mounted the stage and dazzled the crowd for over an hour with dozens of classic pieces from John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Art Blakey and some he himself had written. Joining Marsalis on stage were the members of his septet. Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson and Victor Goines excelled on saxophone, while Richard Johnson pleased the crowd with his piano skills. Herlin Riley kept the beat on drums Reginald Veal on bass, and Ron Westray on the trombone. Marsalis joined the PA community midway through his 2003 septet tour, which will visit nine cities. The limited number of performers in Marsalis’s group gives him the opportunity to improvise freely and to impress audiences with original takes on classic jazz pieces. Marsalis’s presence at the Academy stems partly from a scheduling opportunity, since the artist and his band expected to be in the Boston area all week. Observing this fact while reviewing Marsalis’s 2003 schedule, Instructor in Music William Thomas called Marsalis’s management company and arranged for the performance.