Moving to Higher Ground

How Jazz Can Change Your Life

By Wynton Marsalis; Geoffrey Ward
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812969085, 208pp.)

Publication Date: September 8, 2009

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover

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Description

In this beautiful book, Pulitzer Prize—winning musician and composer Wynton Marsalis draws upon lessons he’s learned from a lifetime in jazz–lessons that can help us all move to higher ground. With wit and candor he demystifies the music that is the birthright of every American and demonstrates how a real understanding of the central idea of jazz–the unique balance between self-expression and sacrifice for the common good exemplified on the bandstand–can enrich every aspect of our lives, from the bedroom to the boardroom, from the schoolroom to City Hall. Along the way, Marsalis helps us understand the life-changing message of the blues, reveals secrets about playing–and listening–and passes on wisdom he has gleaned from working with three generations of great musicians. Illuminating and inspiring, Moving to Higher Ground is a master class on jazz and life, conducted by a brilliant American artist.




About the Author

Wynton Marsalis, the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, musician, educator, and composer, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and received his first trumpet from renowned musician Al Hirt at the age of six. Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards, in both jazz and classical categories, and is the only artist to have won Grammy Awards in five consecutive years, from 1983 to 1987. In 1997, Marsalis’s oratorio on slavery and freedom, Blood on the Fields, became the first and, to date, only jazz composition to win the Pulitzer Prize in music.

Geoffrey C. Ward, a historian, screenwriter, and former editor of American Heritage, is the bestselling author of many books, including The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945, Jazz: A History of America’s Music, and A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt, which won a National Critics Circle Award.




Praise For Moving to Higher Ground

“An absolute joy to read. Intimate, knowledgeable, supremely worthy of its subject. In addition to demolishing mediocre, uniformed critics, Moving to Higher Ground is a meaningful contribution to music scholarship.”—Toni Morrison

“I think it should be in every bookstore, music store, and school in the country.” —Tony Bennett

“Jazz, for Wynton Marsalis, is nothing less than a search for wisdom. He thinks as forcefully, and as elegantly, as he swings. When he reflects on improvisation, his subject is freedom. When he reflects on harmony, his subject is diversity and conflict and peace. When he reflects on the blues, his subject is sorrow and the mastery of it–how to be happy without being blind. There is philosophy in Marsalis’s trumpet, and in this book. Here is the lucid and probing voice of an uncommonly soulful man.”—New Republic

“Wynton Marsalis is absolutely the person who should write this book. Here he is, as young as morning, as fresh as dew, and already called one of the jazz greats. He is not only a seer and an exemplary musician, but a poet as well. He informs us that jazz was created, among other things, to expose the hypocrisy and absurdity of racism and other ignorances in our country. Poetry was given to human beings for the same reason. This book could be called “How Love Can Change Your Life,” for there could be no jazz without love. By love, of course, I do not mean mush, or sentimentality. Love can only exist with courage, and this book could not be written without Wynton Marsalis’s courage. He has the courage to make powerful music and to love the music so, that he willingly shares its riches with the entire human family. We are indebted to him.” —Maya Angelou


“A joyful primer . . . Come blow your horn–and let the music begin.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“I think it should be in every bookstore, music store, and school in the country.” —Tony Bennett

“Wynton Marsalis has been a beacon for music since his early twenties. In Moving to Higher Ground, he continues to exhort, elevate, and educate us.”—Yo-Yo Ma

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