Nov 8, 2021

Music, Listening, and Human Flourishing with Wynton Marsalis (podcast)

Insights on human flourishing from Wynton Marsalis, internationally acclaimed musician, composer, educator, advocate of American culture and Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

By Templeton Staff

This episode delves into how humans flourish through music and listening with internationally acclaimed musician, composer, and bandleader Wynton Marsalis. At the age of 60, after a long, successful career, Marsalis identifies not only as a solo artist and a group leader, but also as an educator and a leading advocate of American culture.

Wynton Marsalis draws inspiration for his music in a variety of places. Listening to the efforts of children new to the experience of making music is a source of great joy for him. “I wrote a very complex piece and at the end of it I gave our band instructions. Play like an elementary school band. We could never do it.”

Listening is at the forefront of learning for this Jazz great. In his interview with Richard Sergay, Marsalis shares his own beginnings with music and recounts an anecdote from his late father, musician and educator, Ellis Marsalis, Jr. “You should always play in relation to what you know. If you don’t know anything, don’t play that much. If you know a lot, play more.” The spirit of listening first has been a refrain that Wynton Marsalis has encountered from many artists throughout his career.

A strong connection to music has enabled Marsalis to flourish in career and in spirit. He shares some of his ideas about what it takes for humans to flourish. “For human beings to flourish, it means that you have healthy cycles, A healthy cycle has some disappointment in it. It’s like a balanced meal, not dessert, that’s part of it. You have expectations, productivity, failure, and success. So, when you flourish, you are able to negotiate the range of experiences that come with a cycle. When you are flourishing, it means that you are always stepping towards maturity.”

Marsalis is optimistic about the future of flourishing and what it means for community. He sees “many innovations in music, and art, and all of them involve...people being involved with things in a deeper, more communal expression—things that are less about individual achievement and more about collective achievement."

Read the transcript from the interview conducted by journalist Richard Sergay, presented by podcast host and producer Tavia Gilbert. Featuring: Wynton Marsalis, Internationally acclaimed musician, composer, educator and a leading advocate of American culture. Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Built upon the award-winning video series of the same name, Templeton World Charity Foundation’s “Stories of Impact” podcast features stories of new scientific research on human flourishing that translate discoveries into practical tools. Bringing a mix of curiosity, compassion, and creativity, journalist Richard Sergay and host Tavia Gilbert shine a spotlight on the human impact at the heart of cutting-edge social and scientific research projects supported by TWCF.