Media Centre

Press release

at Abu Dhabi Festival 2010

6th Apr 2010

Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis makes Middle East debut

One of the greatest living jazz musicians in the world, legendary trumpeter Wynton Marsalis made his Middle East debut last night in front of an enthralled Emirates Palace Auditorium audience, following a private audience with His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Wynton Marsalis has been hailed by critics worldwide as the outstanding trumpet player of his generation.  Last night, this accolade was vindicated to a stunned Abu Dhabi audience, who were treated to the power of his unique musical vision as Marsalis and his ensemble demonstrated the very essence of jazz improvisation, in his inimitable, signature style.

Delivering a spirited and inspired  performance on the trumpet, Marsalis led an ensemble including Wess Anderson on alto saxophone, Marc Cary on piano, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Victor Goines on saxophones and clarinet, Herlin Riley on percussion and Reginald Veal on bass.  Well known for his adherence to the traditions of true improvisational jazz, Wynton took the classic stylistic hallmarks of his New Orleans roots, and with his band, flew into a dazzling whirlwind of improvisation and thrilling ensemble work,  with a dynamic sound that brilliantly evoked the sheer magic and spirit of classic jazz.

The delighted audience were treated to an unexpected world first, when oud master Naseer Shamma, fresh from his Oud Horizons concert the night before, made a surprise appearance on-stage appearance to play with the jazz great.  Having been introduced in the Emirates Palace earlier in the week, the pair soon started jamming backstage, and quickly announced their intention to collaborate.  The result was a spontaneous celebration of Eastern and Western styles, and a performance the thrilled audience will not soon forget.  

Wynton’s name is synonymous with jazz in the United States and worldwide.  He has recorded more than 60 records, sold more than 7 million, and holds the distinction of being the only artist to ever win GRAMMY Awards for both jazz and classical records and the only artist to win GRAMMY Awards in five consecutive years.  Wynton also holds the particular honor of also being the first ever jazz artist to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

As well-known as he is as musician and trumpeter, he is also a hugely respected member of the musical community, passionate and dedicated to educating and inspiring the next generation of jazz musicians.  He co-founded Jazz at Lincoln Center, which has become known as one of the world’s leading centers of jazz education and performance, and regularly delivers workshops and educational events around the world to introduce young people to his world of music and creativity.  Wynton will be holding educational events in the UAE during his visit as part of this passion, and the Abu Dhabi Festival’s own dedication to education.

Commenting on his participation in the Abu Dhabi Festival 2010, Marsalis said:

 “My career has spanned over thirty years, and in that time I have had the pleasure of performing in more venues than I can count, working with legions of uniquely talented musicians, and teaching an incalculable number of students. The Middle East is one of the few areas of the world that I have never visited before, and I’m delighted to be joining a long list of great names at the Abu Dhabi Festival 2010. Jazz encourages us to tell our unique story and teaches us how to create a collective story with others. The music expresses the depth and power of our collective humanity. The core requirements for jazz are creativity, communication and community, and it seems to me that these values are expressed wholeheartedly by the Abu Dhabi Festival.”

Mrs Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, Founder and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival said:

“Wynton Marsalis is a true icon of jazz, as well as one of the world’s finest classical trumpet players.  We are delighted that he made his Middle East debut here in Abu Dhabi, and particularly pleased that he will be sharing his unique musical insight with the people of the UAE through the Festival’s education program.  Last night demonstrated both the quality of his performance and artistic vision – and left us all with the memory of an unsurpassable evening of jazz.”

The Abu Dhabi Festival 2010 is held under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.  It began on 20 March and runs until 7 April. This year’s Festival is a feast of arts and culture with more than 90 events over three weeks, fusing world-class performances in traditional, classical and jazz music, drama, fine arts, and ballet and rich community and education programs.