As part of NY1's Jazz Lives Here coverage, Arts Reporter Stephanie Simon took a day-long tour of the world of jazz in New York City. Following is Part 5 of her six-part series.
It's 8 a.m. Sunday and jazz great Wynton Marsalis is in his apartment. He says it’s not so bad having the sleepy time blues.
“It's early in the morning, it's still kind of dark. Well, not now, it's 8 o'clock, but I'm imagining it,” says Marsalis, before breaking into a piano improvisation. “It's just the blues.”
Marsalis offers the visiting television crew some coffee and an extra cup of encouragement. “It's good that you’re staying up, because that's the real truth of it,” says Marsalis. You know, Wes Anderson and I used to hang out at jam sessions all night until 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning. We'd always say, ‘Anybody can get up and hang at 5, but who can get up at 7 or 8 o'clock all the time?’ The key to being a real hanger is you got to stay up all night, but you got to get up early.”
Marsalis has lived his life on the road, and says musicians really eat, sleep and drink the music.
“Just always be around people and have a good time. You have your horn, you can do all kinds of stuff,” says Marsalis. “Get into restaurants, restaurant be closed. ‘Hey, we got our horns. We'll play for you all if y'all cook for us.’ Okay, man, the chef is not gone. So yeah, if you play such and such.”
For a traveling jazz musician, all-nighters are a way of life.
“You got to do that for about 10 years. Anybody can do it for a day or a week,” says Marsalis. “I got to see years of it, a 10-year hang. Call me 10 years from now and tell me if you made it. You have to have slept an average of four to five hours a night for the past 10 years. I don't want to see any eight-hour, ten-hour nights. It's got to be four or three.”
Marsalis then plays a jazz trumpet solo to show what a real musician sounds like.
From a home of jazz, the action moves to a Brooklyn house of worship. At the Devoe Street Baptist Church in Williamsburg, jazz is part of the gospel.
Accomplished jazz musician Pete Malinverni is the "Minister of Music" at Devoe Street Baptist, and for the past 15 years, Malinverni has been adding swing to the spirituals.
“It's always been my dream to blend jazz and gospel because I think they come from the same place but were separated at birth for various sociological reasons,” says Malinverni. “And so I've always tried to bring the jazz sensibility of playing as well as you can. Paying attention to small things and improvising, being free to let things go as they will, with the gospel sensibility of those wonderful harmonies and melodic innovations that are part of that music.”
Malinverni takes text from the psalms and sets it to new music, basically adding a jazz groove to the church experience. His son plays drums and his wife sings in the choir.
The high-energy musical celebration awakens and revives the TV crew, who clap alongside the small but enthusiastic congregation.
Jazz and gospel music both have their roots in the black church and Malinverni wants to reunite the art forms.
“The jazz musicians perhaps that grew up in church started to see it as too constricting, and then the church people began to think of jazz as the music of the devil,” says Malinverni. “And it's really too bad, because they're both great celebrations of what's possible for humans that agree to agree, that want to get along in the bandstand or in the pulpit or wherever.”
Malinverni always celebrates and calls on a higher power, whether in church or on the bandstand with his jazz trio.
“We play at places in town -- Smoke, the Village Gate, the Village Vanguard, all over, Sweet Rhythm, Dizzy's, Smalls,” says Malinverni. “But while I'm here, this is what I do, and I bring that sensibility here. And I bring this sensibility there which is nice. I've learned here to trust the music, trust the spirit, to prepare myself as a vessel and to just let the spirit tell me what to do.”
NEXT UP: Part 6