Wynton Marsalis Leads Juilliard’s Jazz Program


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By Peter Monaghan

Wynton Marsalis, the trumpeter, has a new role that is likely to expand his influence on the direction and public perception of jazz: director of the jazz-studies program at Juilliard School of Music.

In July Mr. Marsalis replaced Carl Allen, a drummer, as leader of the program at his alma mater. His appointment marked the fruition of a long association, says Joseph W. Polisi, Juilliard's president since 1984. He says that he and Mr. Marsalis, “one of our most distinguished graduates," collaborated extensively between 1998 and 2001, when the jazz program began, “so he has always been a part of jazz at Juilliard."

A native of New Orleans, Mr. Marsalis became a rising star in New York jazz circles as soon as he enrolled at Juilliard in 1979. Now 53, with more than 70 jazz and classical-music albums to his credit, he holds honorary doctorates from more than 30 American universities along with a 1997 Pulitzer Prize for his jazz oratorio Blood on the Fields and nine Grammy Awards.

Did Juilliard recruit the trumpeter? “I don't think anyone recruits Wynton," Mr. Polisi says with a chuckle. “We began talking about the directorship a year and a half ago, when he said he was finding that he had more time, and wanted to devote himself more to jazz education. So it was a natural fit. We feel enormously honored."

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