Wynton Marsalis, calibre of a legend

Masterclass Wynton Marsalis. Teatro Guiniguada.
  • The legendary American trumpeter held a Masterclass for a hundred musicians at the Guiniguada Theatre
  • A band of local musicians accompanied the musician of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on stage

The Festival Internacional Canarias Jazz & Más put the icing on the cake with which it is celebrating its 30th edition, holding a Masterclass given by the prestigious American musician Wynton Marsalis at the Guiniguada Theatre. On the eve of his scheduled concerts with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (Saturday 17 July at the Pérez Galdós Theatre & Sunday at the Tenerife Auditorium), Marsalis disclosed some of the secrets behind music, technical skills & tricks and offered the best of his labour of jazz diffusion & promotion, with exquisite pedagogy that only a mere hundred of privileged Canarian musicians were able to relish.

For the occasion, the festival assembled a group of local musicians made up of Yul Ballesteros (guitar) & translator at the encounter, Kike Perdomo (saxophone), Idafe Pérez (trumpet), José Alberto Medina (piano), Tana Santana (contrabass) & Suso Vega (drums), a sextet who shared the stage with Marsalis and played a couple of pieces which the maestro trumpeter used to expound his pedagogic display. Walter Blanding, (tenor & soprano sax & clarinet) at the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, also participated at the masterclass.

The encounter began with the combo playing a number and Marsalis together with Blanding listening attentively at the side of the stage. From thereon, the display commenced, in which one theme above all came into play on which he centred the entire talk, the interaction, how to improve the performance of a group on stage for all the musicians, “in which each & every member has to find his place, but listening to the rest”. Marsalis corrected details regarding the band’s rhythmic base, played the piano at moments where he encouraged the wind instruments to understand & blend with each other in one language and, as an extra element, joined the band himself playing trumpet alongside Idafe Pérez’s, Kike Perdomo’s saxophone and Yul Ballesteros on piano.

Also participating in the academic session was Walter Blanding, an outstanding student of Marsalis and currently a member in his own right of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Blanding, who speaks basic Spanish, covered three aspects he considered fundamental for the good performance of a band: logic, feeling & tradition. In his opinion, it is always important that things are done on a logical basis, “regarding phrasing or simple rhythms, although not always so”, he pointed out, adding feeling –“express it when you play if you’re happy, sad or ecstatic”- as a key element when working on the interpretation and composition of songs. Lastly, he emphasized the absolute necessity to know tradition, “listen to those who invented jazz, why they played this music from knowledge, assume the responsibility to keep diffusing & promoting this tradition and respect it”.

Marsalis, who spent two hours at the Guiniguada Theatre conveying his musical knowledge, finished the class responding to various questions from the attending audience, reasserting the need for understanding among the members of a band so that everything flows, as well as making a comparison. “What should happen on stage is like dancing, the couple must follow the same rhythm, the same steps; it’s like dancing with someone” he said, while feigning to dance with somebody hugging his inseparable trumpet.


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