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Wynton Marsalis - Reflections after a Decade

"Danny Barker [who plays banjo on Wynton's latest release The Majesty Of The Blues], he's 81 years old. I played in his band when I was eight, the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band. He used to get all the young guys. We'd rehearse in this lot in New Orleans, across the street from the St. Mark's Community Center in the eighth ward. When I was playing with him I was totally not serious! I didn't even like to carry my horn for a two hour parade, marching in the street. I was eight years old and dumb. He used to inspire us to practice, teach us songs, and take time with the whole band. For me to have him on this record, to have him check the music out, and for him to actually enjoy it - that was a great thing for me personally."

"As I grew older, I began to realize how significant he is, and how great a man he is. When I was a young man, I just didn't know. Even in my high school years I would still see him and rap to him. Danny Barker could always tell you stories about the older musicians. But I didn't realize the value of a man with that type of knowledge. I was all into being young and dumb. He's a man who's been dedicated to something for 60 years, and was great at it 60 years ago. Now the richness of his experience and his love for the, music comes through his playing. I can't even describe how it feels to be able to recognize how great somebody like him is."


Originally published in JazzTimes [July 1989]


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