The leading man of jazz (via Philly)

In 1994, when Wynton Marsalis was only six years into his tenure as artistic director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Ed Bradley did a 60 Minutes profile on the New Orleans jazz man.

“Not long ago, people were saying jazz was dead and nobody wanted to hear it anymore,” Bradley said, “but then Marsalis and his trumpet came along and breathed new life into the music.”

Bradley talked with Marsalis while the latter was ironing a shirt for that night’s performance. “It’s like a prom,” Marsalis said. “Every night is a ceremony, and this is a part of that ceremony. People have taken the time to check out our concert, and that’s a serious thing to me. And I want to have something on that’s going to make them feel good, so if I’m not playing nothing, they’ll say, ‘At least he was clean. He couldn’t play, but at least he was clean.’ “

Talking on the phone last month before a Jazz at Lincoln Center gig in Schenectady, N.Y., Marsalis laughs at the memory because, as it happens, he already has the ironing board out. “I’m opening my suitcase right now,” he says. “It’s a preshow ritual. Not just my shirt: my whole suit. It’s just what I do.”
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