Jazz has been Wynton Marsalis' life's work, and the musician and composer says a better understanding of jazz can enrich and improve anyone's life. Gayle talks with Wynton—who also happens to be the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center where she records her show—about the transformative power of jazz and about his book Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life.
Wynton says jazz is one of the greatest American art forms with a rich history and legacy that transcends age, race, gender and class. An appreciation of jazz requires the listener to go beyond words and get in touch with the heart and soul of humanity, he says. "[Jazz] really can transform the way you feel about being alive and the way you feel about other people and yourself," he says.
Playing jazz is a lot like life, Wynton says: A jazz musician may have an occasional solo, but his success depends on his ability to listen, improvise and play in harmony with the band. "The two central tenets of the music are your individuality—and the soul and feeling and depth and beauty of your own creativity—and then your ability to recognize that same gift in other people," he says.
Likewise, Wynton says that listening to jazz can teach the listener a lot about himself, his community and America as a whole. "The music is about how we live our lives," he says. "It's not removed from us—it is us."