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Jazz In The Bittersweet Blues Of Life Paperback – 11 Jul 2002

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About the Author

Born in 1961 near New Orleans, Louisiana to a musical family that included his pianist father Ellis, saxophonist brother Branford, and trombonist brother Delfeayo, Wynton Marsalis studied both jazz and classical trumpet. At 18, he entered the Juilliard School, and the next year joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, the acclaimed band in which generations of emerging jazz artists honed their craft. He has toured with Herbie Hancock and won Grammy Awards for his jazz and classical concerto records. He has recorded a series of hard-bop inspired ballads (Marsalis Standard Time: Volume 1-3), paid tribute to his native city (Crescent City Christmas Card), and written a suite for choreography in the spirit of Duke Ellington (Citi Movement). As co-founder and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, Marsalis has been dedicated to presenting the work of jazz masters such as Ellington and Thelonious Monk in formal concert halls. He is a tireless advocate for music education, from hosting a public television series to writing an instructive companion book, Marsalis On Music. He was also a major figure in Ken Burns' documentary, JAZZ. In March 2001, Marsalis was awarded the United Nations designation of "Messenger of Peace" by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and in June 2002, received the Congressional "Horizon Award." When not on tour, he lives in New York. Carl Vigeland is the author of several books, including, with Wynton Marsalis, Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues of Life (see page 33). He has written about golf and many other subjects for such magazines as Golf Digest, Playboy, The Atlantic Monthly, Fast Company, and DoubleTake. He lives in Massachusetts.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8f1799d8) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90ad466c) out of 5 stars Absolutely Fantastic Work! 28 Jun. 2001
By David M. Waitzman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Picked up Marsalis + Vigeland's work and just couldn't put it down! From descriptions of events, to understanding the personal struggles of band members, Jazz in the bittersweet blues of life fully expresses the goings on of the Wynton Marsalis Septet. Above all, I found Marsalis's commentaries on life, love, and music striking chords within my soul, and left me pleading for more.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91cb0da4) out of 5 stars Marsalis' words are profound and poetic 6 Jun. 2001
By Trevy A. McDonald - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues of Life is a chronicle of one artist's ten year journey as he shares his gift and talent with the world. Marsalis' words, which appear in italics throughout the book are both profound and poetic. As you read, you can hear him speak, but most of all you feel the passion he has for his craft. He poses the question early in the book when explaining that everyone is an artist, " do you want to make me feel with your art, and what insights do you have that distinguish your ideas from someone else's?" A rhetorical question for every artist.
You get a sense of the daily experiences of Wynton and the other musicians in the Septet, from composing on the road, to the daily pick-up basketball games, to the lectures in schools across the country to the musicians ironing their clothing before each performance. It is a demanding, yet rewarding life. Throughout the book (and his travels) Marsalis not only meets and encourages young musicians, but he keeps in contact with them through periodic phone calls, updating himself on their growth as musicians. Some of the young musicians he met early in his career became members of the septet.
Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues of Life, has shaped me as both an artist and author. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Marsalis at Book Expo America. He is as personable, down-to-earth and charming as he appears in this book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f3e9384) out of 5 stars An Insightful Look at the Improvisational Process 1 Jan. 2004
By Chad Davies - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Jazz, America's music, is an improvisational art. In Bittersweet Blues Marsalis and Vigeland do a lot do educate the reader just how this works. Not just on the bandstand but also on the road and in the life of jazz' leading spokesman. The book helps you see how musicians must comminucate, must hold each other with respect, must listen with an ear for creativity and must withhold judgement.
The book alternates between Vigeland's discussion of the events in life of Marsalis' Septet and Wynton's discussions of what it means to be a jazz musician. This interplay is what gives the book it's beautiful tone and variety. In a sense, you see the two authors improvising around each other's styles. What amazed me the most was the pace of Marsalis' life and the breadth of his associations. I enjoyed learning more about the creative process behind some of my favorite music as well.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in road stories, jazz or how artists create the ir art.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92a0142c) out of 5 stars On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again 20 Oct. 2001
By (=^_^=) Broncos Fan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
You can't just say those words without putting music to the most famous road anthem by Willie Nelson. That's what this book is about: life on the road with jazz musicians.

Co-author Carl Vigeland was invited to travel the country and Europe with jazz superstar Wynton Marsalis and his band.

This is about the music of jazz, the blues and the road. Vigeland and Marsalis make numerous references to the book's title "Jazz In The Bittersweet Blues of Life. Vigeland covers personal observations of life with its rigors of the road, the overwhelming passion to produce quality performances. You don't get too much of the personal life of Marsalis, he shares little about his two older boys living in New York.

Brother Branford splits for a rock band
We also get very little info on tenor saxophone Branford Marsalis along with member Kenny Kirkland who left the band in the early 80's to play with rock superstar Sting. Branford also did a short stint as band leader for Jay Leno's "Tonight Show." In the book, we DON'T' get a clear understanding about the departure of his brother Branford and member Kenny Kirkland. Little is known here about Branford's departure, only mentioned here is "that others have thought that it may have been hurtful to have your brother leave for a rock musician." This book doesn't discuss that a rift was occurring and the finality was the departure. But I believe now, all is well with the brothers.

Marsalis, on the other hand, shares keen insight into the world of jazz, his composition style, and rhythm including his relationship with the trumpet. About the trumpet, he says "you can never force the trumpet, you got to baby it, treat it gently, coax it. It's always there when you need a high note, or something very loud. If you don't handle up on it, it won't respect you"

He teaches us about playing the songs and how the members produce an evening's show. We learn about his amiable personality and he exudes the passion to please his audience.

Observations from the Jazz man
Just from this book alone, we get the impression that Wynton Marsalis is cool and collected, caring of young children, family man and friend. His insights into life are fascinating. Of people who hang out at bars, discos, etc., he says are the unhappiest and lonliest blankety blanks in the whole world. He says, "If you want to be happy, go inside. Inside yourself, inside the people you love, inside your art. Inside seems much lonlier than outside, don't be fooled, you go far enough, it's always warm and good."

But most of all, Wynton gives us an idea how he works, how he composes; it's incredible. It may be no surprise that he is also an accredited author with his books by "Marsalis on Music" and "Sweet Swing Blues on the Road." Wonderful read....Rizzo
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f6b9f54) out of 5 stars Better Selections Elsewhere 16 Feb. 2015
By Jazzbyrd - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not a very exciting book, frankly. Marsalis has written some very interesting ones of late - and the passages of his in this particular book are quite good - but the co-author's contribution is not all that interesting.
Too bad, because I enjoyed "Higher Ground" and "To a Young Jazz Musician."
Try those books instead.
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