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Wynton Marsalis: Sage or Idiot?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by caeman, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008

    Did he really just compare an instrument that plays in the mid treble range to an instrument in the bass range?
  2. Rockman


    Mar 2, 2006
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I've long been peeved by his narrow-minded and very uptight claims about the history and nature of jazz... now to hear he thinks bass amps are "stupid" makes me even less interested in anything else he has to say.
  4. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    Anyone that will say, "We live in an era of pure sell-out", turns off my hearing. I could care less what he thinks of amplification.

    I'd much rather listen to Branford or Jason talk, to tell you the truth....

    That is all.
  5. Too bad that when Ken Burns made "Jazz" he was so influenced by Wynton Marsalis. Stopping in 1960, and not even mentioning Wes Montgomery, is typical WM.
  6. TheBasicBassist


    Jan 8, 2009
    Richmond, VA
    Endorsing Artist: Rosado Guitars
    Idiot. If for nothing else, for thinking that his opinion is the golden truth.
  7. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Ask Christian McBride. He developed a bad case of tendonitis after playing in Wynton's band with no amp. It will work if drummers realize they are not playing with amplification. Very few do, sadly.
    I think it speaks volumes that Rufus Reid, Ron Carter, the late Ray Brown and every other top Jazz Upright player I know amplifies their instrument.
    That said, buy or rent the DVD "Chops" about the Jazz At Lincoln Center Ellington Competition to see a different and very cool side of Wynton.
  8. SpamBot


    Dec 25, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    I won't call him either. I agree with everything he says within the context of his own music, but only then.
  9. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Sage, idiot and some of his comments have even been called racist.
  10. bassCanadabass


    Jan 25, 2009
    I think his issue with bass amps is that they are unnatural. When people use bass amps, the band often gets louder, and not for musical reasons. Bass amps generally don't sound as good as acoustic bass. Being a younger player (just entering first year university) I see the issues that the Marsalis talks about all the time. Kids playing really loud, trying to play as many notes as possible. It's unfortunate how regularly I hear things things like "my favorite jazz musician is Slash". If it wasn't for people like Wynton, I'm not sure if straight ahead jazz would be around, or as accessible as it is today (which isn't saying much). At the Toronto jazz fest this year, there isn't one group remotely close to being straight ahead playing in the mainstage concert series.
  11. JmJ


    Jan 1, 2008
    I Went to hear the Blues Summit featuring James Cotton, Taj Mahal, Shemeika Copeland, Pinetop Perkins and Hubert Sumlin at the Rose theater (Lincoln Center)last week. The first set had the Bass Man playing on upright and the second set on Electric Bass. During the first half I could tell some one was playing bass but I what notes he was choosing was anyone's guess. When he played the Electric Bass you could actually hear him play.This from the Rose theater website:

    "Rose Theater is the result of a collaboration between Jazz at Lincoln Center, Artistic Director, Wynton Marsalis and the top international theater planners and engineers. Designed acoustically as the premier jazz performance hall in the world, Rose Theater utilizes ambitious design elements such as a retractable concert shell ceiling and a sophisticated acoustical curtain and banner system to help tailor the sound quality of the hall for individual performances".

    The sound quality of the theater was severely lacking for clarity for this particular show.
    From this whole scenario I can only draw the conclusion that Wynton does not like Bass.
  12. TheBasicBassist


    Jan 8, 2009
    Richmond, VA
    Endorsing Artist: Rosado Guitars
    Just a funny off-topic moment. When I read this, I remembered the recent Rob Trujillo thread and thought, "Wynton would fit in great w. the egos in Metallica. Lars and James would love him!" (Because the members of Metallica are regularly blamed for being bass-haters.)

    Now back to your regular thread. Sorry for the OT moment. :ninja:
  13. wideyes


    May 9, 2007
    Eugene, OR
    Thanks for that, JmJ. Good, solid input from personal experience. I wonder if Wynton just likes it better when HE's onstage and doesn't give much thought to the experience of the audience?

    Awesome thread title, BTW :D
  14. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    Based on your quote, Wynton appears to be a purist, and/or traditionalist? He does seem to enjoy early (old) tunes, and styles that preceded electric amps, eh?
  15. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    The question is do you think his statements are racist? If so, say so.

    For what it is worth, Wynton Marsalis reminds me of Spike Lee when he first became famous. He was a young guy who was clearly smart and opinionated, but who didn't seem to have much regard for others opinions.

    The difference is that Spike Lee today is certainly more mellow and less dogmatic than Wynton Marsalis. Wynton Marsalis, however, seems to be right where he was when he became famous almost thirty years ago. I guess that is a by product of basing a career on copying what has been done in the past instead of trying to think of something new.
  16. Handyman


    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I wouldn't call Wynton Marsalis an idiot, just a very dogmatic guy stuck in 1960. His brothers, however, often have something interesting to say.
  17. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Not an idiot, just ignorant to the function of the bass and what it takes to fulfill this role effectively these days ,I'd say.

    Or his dogmatic and antiquated views on this issue are more important to him than the music and the requirements of today, as they're his comfort zone , hard to break free from(?).
  18. is getting at is the way the sound of an upright is felt on stage- all that wood vibrating for a really large area. But is really retro, and, I think if he had his way, we'd be back in the days of Duke Ellington and the 50's and 60's jazz combos that were not amplified. Nothing wrong with that, if that's what you like, and I've played a lot of that period's music. Ray Brown, Slam Stewart, etc., got a huge sound out of the upright. Right now, though, it's a volume battle, and a change of musical taste & balance over the years. The old days, the bass was felt, more than anything.

    Most bass amps use small speakers and few have the square footage of vibrating area that an upright has - they can't reproduce that initial attack - the thump when the string is plucked. Yeah, the specs say--- but what the specs say and what happens on stage are two different things. I tried 4- 15's once, but not played loud, and that was the closest I have heard to the feel of an upright. A lot of string release thump. Just a real PITA to haul around. Oh, yeah, and I very carefully played at home through two Magnapans and that felt very "real", too.

    Wynton has his opinions. But they don't come out of thin air - they may sound nuts, but they all contain some truth... My two cents- Wynt wants to be a New Orleans version of Clifford Brown with a little Satchmo and Sweets thrown in.. :) That could be good....
  19. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    His opinion only seems to hold true for one narrow instance of music playing. Even in a bluegrass band, the upright is amp'd, otherwise, you'd never hear/feel it over the banjo, mandolin and violin wailing away at some tune. And that is a genre of music that worships the bass's part that it plays.
  20. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    There is something to be said for preserving the past. It is important, but not necessarily at the expense of forging ahead as well. Why can't both exist? Our group does both old standards and new stuff.

    As for the amp thing...does Wynton play with no sound reinforcement whatsoever? Every venue, every occasion? Does he use a mic when he preaches - I mean speaks - to audiences and workshops?

    Sometimes I wonder if he's hurting jazz more than helping.