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Wynton Marsalis

Tonga Room, San Francisco.

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Wine and Spirits

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Perhaps the hardest-working man in jazz, Wynton Marsalis has accomplished more in 45 years than most manage in a lifetime—30-plus albums, nine Grammys, 29 honorary degrees, and a Pulitzer for his 1997 oratorio on slavery, Blood on the Fields. Cofounder of New York’s Jazz at Lin­coln Center, where he serves as artistic director, Marsalis keeps his performance calendar packed: After touring Europe through July, the horn player starts preparing for a full season at Lincoln Center. Here, a few of his life’s high notes.

The Dance by Henri Matisse is ritualistic, lyrical, elegant, primitive, barbaric, refined, and sensual—I love it.

• My musical idols are many: Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Bach, and Beethoven. They're the five I've studied the most.

• I keep my Grammys and Pulitzer in my office. I don't know where the honorary degrees are. I used to hang them up, but it just seemed too ostentatious.

• If I'm flying, I pass the time playing chess with Walter Blanding, one of my orchestra saxophonists.

My trumpet is by Dave Monette. I have just one—after all, I can only play one at a time."

• The service at the Hotel Adlon in Berlin is incredible. And the price is terrific, too. It's my favorite hotel.

• Everything I wear—suits, shirts, ties—is from Brooks Brothers. I love Claudio Del Vecchio, the CEO there. He has an understanding of tradition, but he also knows how to be innovative.

• I keep coming back to The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell for its breadth of knoweldge. I've read and reread it.

• When you drink just a little bit, you're nota drink. We call that as mile. When I want a smile, Armagnac is my favorite.


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