Wynton Marsalis – Wynton Marsalis (Columbia – 1982)
by A. Scott Galloway (Special to RadioFacts)
“Technique comes from practice and discipline, but quality comes from understanding. That’s what I want my music to have. The quality of understanding and individuality that makes jazz so great. It’s a long-term challenge.”
The album opens like a ticking time bomb rolling straight into an avalanche – an explosion of rhythm, and rise and fall dynamics heralding the debut of a musician from whom THIS is but one of a hailstorm of missives to come. The composition: “Father Time.” The composer: Wynton Marsalis. The performance – thrown down by the trumpeter’s Promethean quintet consisting of older brother Branford Marsalis on tenor sax, Kenny Kirkland on piano, Charles Seay on upright bass and Jeff “Tain” Watts manhandling the drums – christening what is likely the most lavish launch of an instrumentalist in jazz music ever.
It starts with the album cover, a Black & White profile of a suited, bespectacled and handsome Marsalis with horn in hand, eyes closed and contemplating what his next note should and will be. The moment capture, shot by William Coupon, telegraphs the intention that the jazz within is emanating from a thinking man’s perspective. A man of intelligence, taste, confidence, class…and tradition. Note the tie, pocket handkerchief and watch. This man means serious business. A sticker on first pressings boasted all-bases-covered quotes from Down Beat Magazine, People Magazine, Leonard Feather of the Los Angeles Times…and jazz bass godfather Ron Carter proclaiming Wynton as, “An incredible player.”