Talk:Wynton Marsalis

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Before we degenerate into a revert war, let's discuss whether/why "African American" should be in this article, and if so, where.

My feeling: It does NOT belong in the introduction - particularly as the first identified adjective - because race is not central to Marsalis' accomplishments as a musician - any more than Yo-Yo Ma's biography should start "...Asian-American cellist..." or various string players should start "... Jewish violinst ..." Obviously, being black in America is a central facet to shaping Marsalis' life, but so is being male and we don't mention that in the intro! I think this case is particularly true here, because being black is not unusual for American jazz musicians - so we can't even argue that it should be included to describe novelty (as could be argued for, say, a black ice-hockey player).

Perhaps race does need to be specifically mentioned somewhere in the article, or we can find a good photo to upload, for those who don't realize that he's black. But not in the introduction.

Comments? - DavidWBrooks 14:33, 26 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I don't think it necessarily has to be in the first sentence. It can be moved into the paragraph about his parents and family as part of his background. The first paragraph could just say that he's from the United States, and this paragraph should probably just summarize why he is notable.--Sketchee 20:55, Dec 26, 2004 (UTC)

I disagree. It's fine and perfectly natural as is. deeceevoice 04:07, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

So you wouldn't be interested in moving it elsewhere in the article? How would you respond to the fact that most other popular figures' race is not the first thing mentioned about them? Most black musicians in wikipedia don't have "African-American" in the introduction (e.g., Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday) and many don't have it mentioned at all. I don't think there's anything uniquely important about race to Marsalis, as compared to other black performers, that merits handling him differently. Can you explain a bit more why you think the reference should stay where it is? - DavidWBrooks 15:14, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

See discussion on Eddie Murphy. deeceevoice 16:00, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I still feel that this is background information and more fitting in the paragraph about his family lineage. The Eddie Murphy talk page doesn't provide any NPOV reasoning, just your point of view as an individual. Not that we shouldn't have or state opinions on the subject, but for the sake of the article we need something more verifiable and a source.
Since it's an important (considering the time period and location, race is still an important aspect) verifiable fact about Marsalis' background it should be in the article. I'm not sure I can think of a NPOV reason that it belongs as is: "an African American trumpeter", however if it was put in a historical context such that he's notable in some what for being African American that could be included in the opening summary more reasonably. I think if a person was a white Jazz musician that would be more immediately notable for example because Jazz is historically associated with the African American people, for example. Perhaps then it is notable that Marsalis has performed and been accepted in classical circles and made breakthroughs in that sense breaking the divide between perceived "white" and "black" music. (Composers such as Ravel and Gershwin considered Jazz to be classical music considering that the instrumentation and basic music theory of the two styles being so connected. Improvosation in classical music was common until the past 100 years.).
I don't completely object to how it is now, but if the information can be included in a better way it should be. I think it can be in this case. :) --Sketchee 16:12, Dec 30, 2004 (UTC)
I agree, but it's also clear from deeceevoice's comments at Eddie Murphy that he/she see this as an ideological battle, and has decided that not mentioning "African/American" right off the top in wikipedia articles about people (those he/she approves of, at least) is historically ignorant or something. As a result, this has "revert war" written all over it, and since I don't think it's worth fighting over, I am bowing out. (By the way, see Clarence Thomas for an excellent inclusion of race in the introductory paragraph.) - DavidWBrooks 19:11, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

There is absolutely nothing intrinsically negative about identifying someone by their ethnicity -- no more so than doing so by their nationality. It's simply another identifier. Folks need to get over trying to be so PC. It can be tiresome as all get-out. David, thanks for the referral to Clarence Thomas -- but no, thanks. The less I read about that despicable, lying, quizzling, Unkkka Tom fool, the better. Peace. deeceevoice 21:38, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I suppose it's a waste of time to say that wikipedia isn't supposed to be an advocacy forum for imposing your opinions on others about despicable, lying, quizzling (that's a new one to me) people ... yeah , I thought so. - DavidWBrooks 00:50, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Deecee, the opinions you've made on the Eddie Murphy page are much closer to being politically correct than the statements made by David here. We are simply talking about improving this one article, not the world. ;)

The PC page gives us "The reasoning postulated by proponents for using politically correct terminology is to bring peoples' unconscious biases into awareness, allowing them to make a more informed choice about their language and making them aware of things different people might find offensive." Unless I've misread your statements (apoligies if I have), that seems similar to your reasons for inclusion sighting on the Murphy talk. I don't think these are bad reasons at all, just clarifying on the term PC. Rather than subtle we can be a bit more bold, I think:

In any case, I'm proposing giving the fact that Marsalis is African American context because I think it is an important fact about his life and carreer. This includes the strides he made as a Jazz musician who is also accepted as a classical musician. Rather than glossing over the fact in some kind of summary list as-is, I think it would be better to include the concerns you address in the article. In an article about Marsalis, it is noted "We've got the Philharmonic, the various opera and ballet orchestras, none of whom have even 25 percent African-American participation. And none of them have a music director who's African-American. In a major city, this is the only legitimate gig that's run by a leader who's black, so how bad is that?" [1] I think many people won't know anything about these kind of concerns and that is why Marsalis (and race in general) is notable. I think it's obvious to you and me that these are still important issues today, but unfortunately not to everyone. The article can certainly explain this further in a NPOV manner. If you don't object, I'll add a new header and section regarding some of Marsalis' role in this and from there we can probably reword the opening statement to better summarize the expanded article. --Sketchee 03:55, Dec 31, 2004 (UTC)

Brooks, that's the beauty of the Internet. I can call that lying, tomin', self-loathing, sleazoid son-of-a-bitch/bastard on the bench pretty much anything I damned well please.  :-p

Sketchee, that's the funniest thing I've read in a long time. There's absolutely nothing politically correct about me. Frankly, I don't much care where the information about Marsalis' ethnicity appears -- as long as it's there. But it's gotta be there. deeceevoice 01:42, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Agreed - it must be there, and must be prominent. Just not, perhaps, the very first adjective in the article. (And, yes, on the Net we can call anybody anything we like, but hopefully not in wikipedia articles) - DavidWBrooks 14:17, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Well, Einstein, I haven't called that lying Quizzling bastard names in the article -- have I? :-p deeceevoice 23:27, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

another try[edit]

OK, how about this version - it keeps "African American" in the intro, but moves it to the context of classical music where it is more unusual. - DavidWBrooks 02:23, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Not being purposely argumentative, but this doesn't work for me. It's too potentially POV; one could argue Chevalier de Saint Georges -- or, more convincingly (and contemporaneously) Andre Watts, or dredlocked Awadagin Pratt. Certainly, both are also widely known classical concert pianists in modern times. deeceevoice 11:15, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Boy, I'd love to see an article like African-Americans in classical music from you ... you're way over my head with those references! Still, I think that in most of America, from Des Moines to Phoenix to Detroit to New Orleans, Marsalis would score vastly higher on the name recognition scale for classical music. Perhaps not in impact, but in popularity. - DavidWBrooks 14:18, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I think you both have good points. There are many other notable African American classical musicians. Andre Watts is still a stub (that didn't even exist until I made it last month), as is Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman. It's probably true that Marsalis is more well known in America; he appears on the Today Show, late night circuit, newspapers and in the news fairly often promoting both jazz and classical (google news has quite a few hits although Watts gets as many).
It's true that there are more black musicians in jazz than classical in the US. If we're going to have a NPOV article we can't assume that the reader knows that US Today reported that 25% of professional classical musicians are African American. This is part of American jazz and classical culture. This is all necessary context. As NPOV says, we want to prevent the various points of view that exist, but not assert that it is correct. If a source says that Marsalis is has made important strides in African American music that we should present that information. Whether it's true or not is for the reader to decide. We are not to avoid POV topics, but represent and characterize them. :) --Sketchee 15:41, Jan 3, 2005 (UTC)
25 percent?!?!? Maybe it's because I live in New England, but if 5 percent of the orchestra/quartet/classical musicians I've seen in my life are black, I'd be surprised. (As a side note, I wrote "instrumentalist", an awkward word, to differentiate Marsalis from vocalists such as Jessye Norman. I agree that she is probably more widely known.) - DavidWBrooks 16:11, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, I rechecked the article (above , in the early conversation). It says less than 25% percent in an urban area with a high black population, not the overal number.
I made some additions continuing from where I left off before. Another thing the article is still missing is Marsalis' discography. --Sketchee 16:43, Jan 3, 2005 (UTC)

I just copied the discography from his site. Probably needs better formatting and italics but at least it's there now. --Sketchee 16:55, Jan 3, 2005 (UTC)

I edited the characterization of Marsalis' popularity, adding some qualifiers. I don't think it's necessary to make a POV statement about his supreme popularity. Brooks, also keep in mind the article refers to Marsalis as an instrumentalist," in which case Norman and Battle (or any number of other African American opera divas) wouldn't figure into the equation. The addition of the discography is a real plus. deeceevoice 06:01, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It looks great now: We can format the discography as time permits - I've been having real problems getting into wikipedia lately. (And just a note: I'm the one who put the word "instrumentalist" in there!) - DavidWBrooks 13:30, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

U 2? Wiki has been really slow/difficult navigating lately. Well, don't know that I know enough to do an article on blacks in classical music -- or that I necessarily have the interest. (If someone wants to do one, I can maybe drop in and pick at it -- constructively. :-p) And, yep. I mistakenly inserted your tag when I meant to enter Sketchee's w/regard to the "instrumentalist" thing. Peace. deeceevoice 21:44, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Under Biography, in the 4th paragraph, should it be "weeklong" or "week-long"?

Is he well known as an instrumentalist, or only as an African-American instrumentalist?

If he was born in New Orleans, why does the Lincoln Center website say it was "near New Orleans"?

Re "African-American instrumentalist" -- Why not create a third sentence, adding another dimension, such as: "As an African-American, Wynton Marsalis has benn forthright in addressing matters of race in his writings, interviews, and compositions." ?

Without objection then, the latest suggestion regarding "African-American instrumentalist" ought to be implemented. 19:29, 3 August 2005 (UTC)

Hi All,

"J Mood" was missing in the discography. I belive it was released in 1985. Can someone confirm?


Website?[edit] seems like a reasonable official webpage, but so does the similarly claiming Any idea what's going on? Evan Seeds (talk) 04:44, 1 March 2006 (UTC)


Since the 1980s, Marsalis is often credited as a major force in repopularizing jazz. He also ruined it with his childlike conception of music as a whole.

"Ruined it"??? "childlike"??? The whole sentence stinks of POV.

I was just surfing through, am not a jazz expert, and have to say: The whole article seems very POV. I mean, his biography, musical accomplishments, and then a section called "Controversy" in which we only get random attacks on the man by a handful of critics! Unsubstantiated attacks, with no detail, are not "controversy." How about explaining what the controversy is about, and how about a description of Marsalis' own views on the subject, not just as filtered through summary of the attack critics?

Probably something to be said about politics and the "Democracy and Jazz" statement thing, considering WM's oft stated views about the lack of democracy for African Americans (valid or not). Relating it to "no America, no jazz" as a statement was odd and it was apropo to nothing at any rate.

Marsalis is a controversial figure and I think the criticism section is warranted. But Lester Bowie was definitely never in the Modern Jazz Quartet. Whoever wrote that should clear it up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:42, 21 July 2010 (UTC)


I've checked a number of sites and they don't seem to agree on release dates for the albums. If anyone can confirm some dates and add missing albums, I'd be glad to format it. JoeTrumpet 04:28, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Headline text[edit]


I once read an interview where Wynton said he ignored classical music until someone told him "blacks can't play classical music." Does anyone know where I could find that interview? Mingusboodle (talk) 17:30, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Protocol in discography[edit]

Some overly zealous editor has been creating blue links to persons, when this should not be done for album titles. Album titles should only have wiki links if there is already a wikipedia article for the album title in question. Prior to my corrections, "Mozart" would lead to an article on the musical figure, not to the particular album in question. Dogru144 (talk) 19:17, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Unencyclopedic tone[edit]

The "Biography" section is full of flowery puffery which is unreferenced and unencyclopedic in tone. It made unreferenced statements of fact such as "The most extraordinary dimension of Wynton Marsalis, however, is not his accomplishments but his character. It is the lesser-known but much appreciated part of this man who finds endless ways to give of himself." If Time magazine makes him "Man of the Year" and says something like that, then it could be included, but not just as opinion of some Wikipedia editor. It still needs a lot of pruning to make it read like an encyclopedia article and not just a fan's website. Edison (talk) 14:57, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

PerBe Bold. I attempted to unpeacock the entry, but some bombast remains. Also a lot of assertions lack citation.

PR fluff, and family connections[edit]

I like Wynton Marsalis and have no gripe against him. The "criticisms" seem like sour grapes. Despite the edits, the article still has the flavor of fluff by a PR firm. Also, there should be some note that he comes from a family of accomplished jazz musicians. His father and five brothers are well known artists. They are relevant to his story.Tldoran (talk) 02:32, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

I removed much of the fluff. The criticisms are payments in kind. You wanna talk mess, then you get mess. As for "sour grapes" that depends on whether you agree with them or not, but to say so is a baseless supposition or suspicion, unless cited by RS's. In any case, the critics are notable, many and cited. The Artist AKA Mr Anonymous (talk) 04:47, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Criticisms POV[edit]

There is an abundant amount of POV pushing in the criticisms section. While it is well referenced there are entire statements that don't come from sources, such as the opening of the section:

Marsalis has been criticized by some jazz musicians and writers as a minor and limited trumpeter who pontificates on jazz, as he did in his 1988 opinion piece in the New York Times "What Jazz Is - and Isn't".[1][2]

When both of those sources are checked, nothing along those lines can be found, particularly the loaded words like "minor", "limited" and "pontificated". All in all I feel the section is valid as Marsalis is certainly a controversial figure in jazz with his adherence to traditional jazz. The section just seems to smack of editorial and probably suffers from a WP:WEIGHT problem as well. I may have a hand at editing it some but figured I would let those who may have already worked on this some to chime in.

--WGFinley (talk) 04:15, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

As much as I agree with the first paragraph, line - OK I wrote it - we do have an obligation to keep editorial POV out of it, and the particulars that are cited are damning enough of Marsalis to stand on their own. The Artist AKA Mr Anonymous (talk) 05:25, 2 January 2012 (UTC)

The entire section is a rampant violation of several aspects of Wikipedia policy. The first paragraph contains numerous violations of WP:SOURCE, specifically with citations to personal blogs. The paragraph also has violations of WP:COPYOTHERS in citing copyrighted material. Other citations are to dead links. The second paragraph has no relevant citation, it is purely WP:POVEDITOR. The third paragraph is in violation of WP:SOURCE as the citation is a personal blog. I have cleaned up the article. DanJazzy (talk) 11:50, 12 May 2015 (UTC)


the criticisms before the awards and recognitions; i've never seen another wiki article structured that way. the 'controversies' and 'legal troubles' and the etc etc are always after the plaudits. (talk) 07:32, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

Fittingly his mouth eclipses his talent. The Artist AKA Mr Anonymous (talk) 03:04, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

Critcisms (Why?)[edit]

It seems almost unnecessary to have an entire section devoted to criticism, especially regarding Marsalis' musicianship. Critical reception/opinion is usually reserved for discography and the wikipages of individual works. No other artists or musicians have a section like this regardless of whether they are good or not. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:42, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

See above. Rothorpe (talk) 22:16, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

Notable Family[edit]

I took Wynton's brother Mboya off the intro as he's not a notable musician like the rest. If the consensus is to list all brothers, there is also another brother not previously included, Ellis III, who is not a notable musician. Musicandnintendo (talk) 14:36, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to one external link on Wynton Marsalis. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true to let others know.

Question? Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers. —cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 08:27, 17 October 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^ Wynton Marsalis (1988-07-31). "What Jazz Is - and Isn't". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  2. ^ Sam Prestianni. "What Wynton Doesn't Hear: Lester Bowie explains". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2010-05-07.