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Wynton Marsalis 50th Birthday
posted: October 15, 2011

It doesn’t happen every day that you meet one of your heroes. When that meeting turns into a friendship and then a collaboration, you know you’ve been blessed.
 
Wynton  and I met almost twenty years ago, for a poster project that we both signed. Since then I designed a poster for The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that depicted him in his Crescent City hometown, we’ve worked together on two books, and I spent a week out on the road with him and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra making sketchbook drawings.
 
Wynton has won a Pulitzer, nine Grammys and numerous other citations and honors, he has been an inspiration to many, many musicians and people who are making their way in the world as artists. Whenever we meet, he always acknowledges the accomplishment of survival with the words “So, we’re still out here.”
 
I’ve admired so much about him, the way he leads fifteen of the greatest jazz musicians of any era in the JALC Orchestra, the way he sits with young musicians who bring their instruments to a concert hoping for advice from the maestro, and his thoughtful writing and lectures on the important  place that jazz music holds in our history and culture. I’ve seen him working on a symphony in a hotel room with no piano, and I’ve seen him stay late after a gig talking to fans until it’s just him and the guy locking the place up.
 
Tuesday is Wynton’s 50th birthday. There has been a week-long series of concerts at JALC’s Rose Theater featuring special guests and some serious swing. I wish I was there acknowledging the accomplishment.
Sketches for New Orleans Jazz & Hertiage Festival, 2002...

Colored-pencil sketch for poster...

Seventeen color silk-screen poster...


Wynton at soundcheck in Atlanta...



Here's a preview of our second book for Candlewick Press, our first book, Jazz ABZ is still in print, (turns out kids love books with Coleman Hawkins in them.) The new book is a picture book for young readers about sounds titled Squeak, Rumble, Whomp Whomp Whomp! We're trying to get it finished while we're still on this earth. It's scheduled for Fall 2012.
7 comments
Stephen Kroninger October 15, 2011
great work, great post.
Joe Ciardiello October 17, 2011
What great collaborations. Happy birthday to Wynton.
sock October 17, 2011
amazing. congrats paul and happy 50th Winton.
Douglas Fraser October 17, 2011
Your breadth of skill across media is on display in this post.
Tim OBrien October 18, 2011
Nice preview...happy birthday to a great American.
Noah Woods October 20, 2011
LOVE the post, Paul. I know you and Wynston have had a wonderful connection and clearly an amazing collaboration.
Victor Juhasz October 21, 2011
One of those special nights I remember in the days of going to Fat Tuesday's in NYC was watching Wynton and Branford performing their last gig with Art Blakey and his Messengers. What a thrill. What a great evening. So I've been following Wynton for quite a while now. He's a pretty remarkable musician and human being. The work here that you've posted is beautiful, Paul.
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