This Day in Black History: Oct. 18, 1961

This Day in Black History: Oct. 18, 1961

Wynton Marsalis, jazz trumpet virtuoso, was born Oct. 18, 1961.

Published October 18, 2013

Wynton Marsalis, a native of New Orleans, is perhaps the world’s best known jazz trumpet player and also an accomplished classical artist. Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards and, in 1984, he became the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical recordings. He is one of only two artists to win Grammy Awards for five consecutive years of musical contributions. He was also the first artist to have a jazz composition win a Pulitzer Prize.

Marsalis is from a celebrated musical family in New Orleans. He is the son of jazz musician Ellis Marsalis and the brother of saxophonist Branford Marsalis, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and drummer Jason Marsalis. Marsalis is known for promoting the appreciation of classical and jazz music often to young audiences.

He was the youngest musician admitted to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center, at the age of 17. He moved to New York and attended Juilliard and started working alongside jazz musicians throughout the city. 

In 1980, Marsalis joined the Jazz Messengers, which was led by Art Blakey. He would go on to perform with some of the greatest legends of jazz, from Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughn to Herbie Hancock and Sonny Rollins.

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(Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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