Wynton Marsalis is the public face of jazz. He is a cultural force, a symbol, a spokesman and-at times-a lightning rod for criticism. * He is a composer, bandleader and trumpet virtuoso with a ridiculously impressive resume-more than 30 jazz and classical recordings, nine Grammys and a Pulitzer Prize for his oratorio Blood on the Fields. As artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center he has the most high-profile jazz gig going. Marsalis has performed all over the world and worked with everyone from Art Blakey to the New York Philharmonic. * He is an educator, recipient of numerous honorary degrees, author of three books and a jazz alphabet primer for children. Kofi Annan appointed him a Messenger of Peace for the United Nations, he was designated a Cultural Ambassador by the State Department and remains prominently involved in efforts to bring his native New Orleans back to life following Hurricane Katrina.
It becomes hard to remember that at the root of all this Marsalis is just a trumpet player who has lived and worked in New York City since he came to attend Julliard at 17. Now 44, he released Live at the House of Tribes in 2005. It was a back-to-basics record, capturing the trumpeter with a small group in an intimate New York room complete with huzzahs and handclaps.