Wynton - The Only Person in Jazz Who Matters?

I was just wondering when Wynton Marsalis’ opinion became so central to jazz that an article about another musician has to include a discussion about whether that artist gets along with Wynton and the nature of their relationship?

The New Yorker this week has a – mostly – very nice article on Esperanza Spaulding, the Portland, OR bass player. (She just smokes her fiddle BTW. I saw her playing with Joe Lovano last year and she was just phenomenal. She got every bit as much applause as Joe did.) For some reason the author felt compelled to discuss her – and I think by extension all of jazz – through the lens of whether or not Wynton would approve, or even call it jazz. That seems awfully narrow minded.

Granted, he has the loudest megaphone with JALC, but c’mon, is that really necessary?
I didn't read the article that way. Like it or not---and I don't much---Marsalis has clout and in the context of a New York-based publication, he's likely to get mention. But I thought that the author definitely alluded to Marsalis's inflexibility and narrowness. I also would say that he overpraised Spaulding's album. She has enormous promise, but most of the album lacks any kind of personal stamp.
I agree with Birdies, I don't think it's so much that everyone has to agree with Marsalis, it's just that Marsalis is definitely considered the best out there right now, and so his opinion should and does carry a great deal of weight. Do I like every single thing he does? No, but he is certainly the best out there right now, and also the most caring of the traditions of jazz, even as he extends them. He is a great musician by any standard.
To be very controversial, I would say Marsalis is the 'Literate White Persons' window to the Jazz world.
So I think the author is reaching to that audience, and by 'authenticating' the connection between Marsalis and the new artist, verifying the OKness of said new artist to the "Literate White Community".
Marsalis is nothing more than a pimp of orthodoxy. He has not had one original or innovative thought in his life. His motto is: if it ain't dead I don't want to hear it. I think his cut off line is around 1955. Just listen to his derision when he speaks of Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra.
Wynton has let all the ass kissing go to his head and he really believes he is the second coming.His brothers and Father are way more talented in my opinion.
"He is certainly the best out there right now"... I'm not a Wynton hater but that is about the raunchiest hunk of cheese that's been cut around here for awhile... everyone knows that music is just like hmmm... maybe the long jump, where only one person can jump the greatest number of feet and inches. Not sure who has sold the most records, but wouldn't that person be the "best"?
"best" and most popular are two very different things. Stuff that has sold millions of copies now can be seen as total crap. Other items that sold only in the thousands can be considered great art.
The masses are not the arbitors of greatness.
Though one might argue otherwise... Usually hindsite makes plenty of folks fill those Goodwill bins with old crap ANYONE would be embarassed to own today.
Wynton is certainly not "The Only Person In Jazz Who Matters"!

That said, he is an enormously talented musician. I've heard him live four times and his virtousity is spectacular. I'm not a huge fan of his original music, but a live performance of "Blood On The Fields" was one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. The man is definitely a student of jazz and he definitely has his opinions about the music. I don't always agree with him, but I'm interested in what he says about the music. I've also heard him 'rap' about non-musical topics at his concerts which was very interesting.

Because of his profile, accessibility and willingness to express his thoughts, (as well as being one of the few commercially successful jazz artists) journalists seek his input. Other artists like Warhol and Chihuly have certainly enhanced their personal brand by promoting their art form and by being accessible to the media.

He is articulate, good-looking and a great spokesperson for jazz. He has devoted countless hours giving clinics, visiting schools and building Jazz At Lincoln Center. His commitment to jazz as an art form can not be questioned and as a lover of the music, I am thankful for his contributions. Probably not the most humble human being, but if you can back it up...
Wynton Kelly matters to me more than Wynton Marsallis. Just my point of view.
And remember, the article was in the New Yorker... A mag who thinks everyone lives in Yonkers... and nobody lives in the Bronx.
I think I'd have to agree with Chashmal on this one. Wynton is ok, but not anywhere close to the "best". Just as music, IMHO, Branfords original albums are consistently more interesting and have been for decades.

It seems there's a bit of a backlash going on out there too. The big jazz rags - Jazz Times and Downbeat - do not seem to give Wynton much print. I don't recall seeing a feature article, or even a half page on him in the last year or so. I wonder if that's on purpose?
Group think, bandwagon mentality. It's the reason EVERYone knows Mozart, Ansel Adams, Ella Fitzgerald, and many other examples of people with talent, but who've been given excessive praise at the exclusion of other greater talents. Have you every heard of Betty Carter, Gerry Ueslmann, George Crumb? Names not completely unknown, but certainly overshadowed, yet they were uncompromising trailblazers who weren't entrenched in the previous generation's style. (And what about the "stepbrother" Brandford?)
Jazdoc, very well said.

When Mr. Marsalis first gained the music world's attention back in 1980 jazz from a commercial perspective was dead. No one was getting label contracts and established artists were still in their funk/fusion stages. Whether it was foisted upon him or he jumped and grabbed it, Marsalis became the face and voice of jazz to the wider population. For more than a generation he's carried that burden quite well. He ain't perfect, but he's real, real good.
Can't stand Wynton or his music. He was just catering to the classical crowd over at Lincoln Center, not the true jazz lover (I'll probably catch sh!t from some for saying that).
Please lets not compare George Crumb to Mozart..and when it comes to Betty Carter no contest with Ellas voice and vocal intelligence she wins out.
marsalis is unquestionably a great technician, but has always sounded somewhat clinical and soul-less to me. i also found his classical & operatic stuff like "blood on the field" to be virtually unlistenable. however to suggest that he's "the white man's window to jazz' because he's an articulate (cf outspoken), well-dressed guy is classist nonsense. remember, miles davis, who's everyone's epitome of cool, was the julliard-trained son of a surgeon. i personally think the guy's music should be viewed on its own terms; he is after all, a trumpet player, not a political or religious icon.

You stole my post almost word for word. Marsalis is an extremely accomplished technician, and the highest profile player in contemporary jazz. That's not too shabby a resume, right there.

OTOH, his compositional and interpretive work isn't my cup of tea. Forget about "Miles Davis Cool", Marsalis usually just flat out leaves me cold. That, however, is simply a matter of my personal taste (which, oddly, is just like Wynton's - largely stuck in the '50s).

I don't particularly like to listen to Steve Vai, either, but I could practice 24 hours a day for the next 100 years and never touch the guy's technical proficiency. I respect him, even if I don't particularly dig him. Same deal for Wynton.

Wynton's sound - to me at least - always sounds academic and forced. Technically brilliant, but lacking spontaneity, and that includes much of his recent JALC work which sounds overly composed. Duke Ellington was brilliantly composed too, but Duke swung. Wynton does not. He leaves me cold.
When Wynton was a side man with Art Blakey and the Messengers, I thought he was one of the greatest trumpet players ever. While he can still blow the trumpet, his music is "out to lunch", he should forever remain a "side man".