CBS Decides Culture is Important After All

Wynton Marsalis with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra(Photo: Frank Stewart)
Wynton Marsalis with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra(Photo: Frank Stewart)

Wynton Marsalis Named CBS News Cultural Correspondent

Thirty years after he put his own band together and hit the road, Jazz/Classical trumpet legend Wynton Marsalis steps into the role of advocate and educator.  It has been years since mainstream broadcast or cable television has actively promoted the arts in America.  In his new role as CBS News Cultural Correspondent, maybe Wynton Marsalis is the beginning of that pendulum swinging back the other direction.

“Walter Cronkite was a jazz fan and a drummer,” commented Marsalis. “Ed Bradley was a mentor and treasured friend. I was an unabashed lover of Charles Kuralt’s vision of America from the road and Dr. Billy Taylor’s jazz segment on ‘Sunday Morning’ inspired us all,” says Marsalis.

While some would say that maybe Yo Yo Ma is the better person for this role, Ma occupies a different spot in the music world.  Yes, he is internationally-known, well-respected, and has spent must of his career exploring other genres of music outside of classical music, it is still that for which he is best known.  Marsalis, on the other hand, has always had a foot firmly planted in both jazz and classical music. As a performer, he has won nine Grammy Awards, is the only artist in history to have received Grammys for five consecutive years and is the only artist to have received a Grammy for both jazz and classical music in the same year (1983).
On the educational side, Marsalis is entering his 25th year as Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.  JALC emphasizes both education and performance, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra tours  nationally and internationally.  Broadcast productions bring Wynton Marsalis and JALC into homes across the country and around the world.  Kudos to CBS for taking this long-overdue step.  People willing to embarrass themselves and insult our intelligence on “reality TV” are a dime-a-dozen. National treasures such as Wynton Marsalis are rare, indeed.  We dare not squander this opportunity.

Below, Wynton Marsalis proves he can build a bridge in any direction, as he and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra take one of Eric Clapton’s classic tunes and make it their own…with guest Eric Clapton.

Read Wynton Marsalis named CBS News Cultural Correspondent (TV by the numbers)

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