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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Monday YouTube Fix: Wynton Marsalis Septet

Andrew Hitz

The finest jazz performance I've ever seen featured this amazing septet.  I was still a high school student and that night filled me with inspiration and aspirations.  It's a pretty cool story of how I ended up at the gig as well. Back in 1992 I was having a lesson at Boston University with my private teacher, Julian Dixon, and Wynton and his septet happened to be rehearsing there that night.  My teacher knew him from when they were kids and graciously interrupted their rehearsal to introduce me.  Wynton then asked me if I had any interest in seeing them play the next night at the Regatta Bar in Cambridge.  I of course said yes.

Not only did Wynton put me on the guest list +1 but he convinced them to let both of us into this 18 and over show by telling them that we were his friends.  A ve3ry nice gesture but not the impressive part of the story.

They were playing two separately ticketed shows that night.  My buddy and I went to the earlier of the two.  As soon as the early show ended he invited us up and struck up a conversation with us both as the rest of the place was forced to leave.  He then spent an entire hour personally introducing us to five of the other six guys in the band.  I actually had real conversations with Marcus Roberts, Wycliffe Gordon, etc. and that was in large part because Wynton stood there with us the entire time as if we were his relatives or something.

He finally graciously excused himself to get just a few minutes to be "off the clock" before the second gig.  I know how precious the alone time can be when being pulled in 85 directions at once on the road.  He went WAY out of his way to make that evening both inspiring and special for me and my buddy.  In fact, I've used it as a guide for when there's some young kid who just wants to hang around backstage and I'm having one of those days where I just need some time to myself.  I just try to think back to that night, get over myself, and give the kid all the time I have.

Thank you Wynton for taking the time share your gift with me as a high school student.  That night still inspires me to this day.