- James Sellman
Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is the leading figure in contemporary Jazz. He burst onto the jazz scene as part of Art Blakey's 1980 edition of the Jazz Messengers. More than an inventive and talented musician, Marsalis has become the de facto spokesman for the neoclassical movement in jazz that emerged in the early 1980s, drawing inspiration from acoustic jazz styles that antedate the free jazz and jazz-rock of the late 1960s and 1970s. He has also worked effectively as a jazz educator, particularly for his four-part Public Broadcasting System (PBS) series Marsalis on Music, which won a Peabody Award in 1996.
Besides achieving acclaim as a musician, Marsalis emerged in the 1980s as an outspoken and controversial figure in America's ongoing dialogue on race and culture. His ideas on jazz and African American culture are indebted to the thinking of Albert Murray and Murray's intellectual disciple, Stanley ...
A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.