W. o’ W.: Wynton


“I believe that there’s a lot of what I call root American music, and root American musics are all joined together. Those are the blues, gospel, the American popular song, what we call country and western, and bluegrass. Sometimes bluegrass and country western are lumped together, but the two are different. They come out of two kind of different feelings of the same tradition, so I feel that all of those root tributaries feed into jazz. You find jazz musicians collaborating with all musicians. Louis Armstrong inspired Hoagy Carmichael when he was a kid in Chicago, and he gave great readings of the American popular song. Willie Nelson made a great recording singing songs like “Stardust,” and “Stardust” is written by Hoagy Carmichael, who Louis Armstrong spent his birthday party [with at] the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. So we could go on through the bloodlines. Eric Clapton comes from that whole kind of Anglo-Celtic relationship that all Afro-Americans have, that when people use to hear spirituals in the 19th century they’d say it sounded like Irish music to them. When August Wilson, who’s the preeminent Afro-American playwright, passed away, I played at his funeral. He requested that I play “Danny Boy” and that I learn the words. It’s all of these interesting relationships we all have. Our bloodlines are all tied into roots, but when the music becomes a product then all of the segregation and ignorance comes into it, because what it takes to make something is very different than what it takes to sell it. Many times you’re selling an image and other things that have absolutely nothing to do with what it took to make. That’s what I strive for with every collaboration I do; we meet each other on a very human level. We’re not coming together just to make products, we coming together just to make music.”