Wynton Marsalis displayed an aptitude for music even at a young age diligently practicing the trumpet his father had given him.
Sunday he will show Chapel Hill he has grown into one of the most illustrious jazz musicians of today boasting a Pulitzer Prize for music and nine Grammy Awards for either jazz or classical recordings.
He and the rest of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will perform to a sold-out Memorial Hall crowd" presented by Carolina Performing Arts.
""It's sort of a jazz organization on par with opera companies and major symphony orchestras"" said Jim Ketch, director of jazz studies at UNC.
It's nothing like jazz has ever seen.""
Marsalis" a Louisiana native" is also known as an educator. He has created a national high school jazz competition known as ""Essentially Ellington"" and compiled hundreds of musical scores for jazz teachers around the country.
Kara Larson" director of marketing and public relations at Carolina Performing Arts" said the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra also has a list of high profile players.
""It's the kind of force that pulls the best"" she said.
Marsalis, though sometimes criticized for not advancing jazz and playing to his contemporary peers, has a sound that Ketch said embodies the stylings he grew up listening to.
In the 1960s, about the time Marsalis was born, there was John Coltrane, a jazz musician who Ketch said changed jazz forever.
He said after Coltrane's music, few players looked back to early jazz musicians like Duke Ellington and Count Basie.
They instead sought new forms of expression — avant-garde and fusion styles.
But Marsalis is different.
While many players today are technically proficient, Ketch said they do not have the originality of sound that early jazz musicians did.
What Wynton is" is kind of a throwback to that" he said.
Wynton has one foot in tradition and another foot in innovation.""
For Sunday's concert"" Ketch said audiences can expect to hear the musical styles of Thelonious Monk interspersed with children's nursery songs and Marsalis' unique sound.
""I don't know if we're going to hear ‘Twinkle" Twinkle Little Star' but it wouldn't surprise me if we did" he said.
Accolades aside, Marsalis, today's unappointed front man of jazz, will do what he does best — play how his father showed him to play.
This isn't a pickup band. This isn't a great artist who has hired a few side men"" Larson said.
This is arguably one of the world's greatest institutions for jazz.""
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