"All Rise," All Week: Wynton Marsalis brings his inspiring music and passion for education to Ann Arbor


Wynton Marsalis performs with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Photo by Frank Stewart.

Wynton Marsalis performs with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Photo by Frank Stewart.

Blues and swing are at the core of every piece Wynton Marsalis composes, every note he plays on his trumpet.

He also tirelessly talks to audiences of all kinds—from concert halls to classrooms—to explain why the blues and swing center his music.

Marsalis, along with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO), will show and tell all about the blues and swing during his October 10-16 residency in Ann Arbor courtesy of the University Musical Society (UMS), which will include concerts, talks, and educational outreach. 

While Marsalis and Co. are yearly visitors to Ann Arbor, their appearance is happening a bit earlier in the calendar year than usual, so the JLCO big-band performance on October 16 at Hill Auditorium likely won't include the holiday repertoire that has helped define their previous concerts here.

But that closing concert won't necessarily even be the musical highlight of Marsalis' residency.

The October 14 show at Hill might be one of the most ambitious concert events UMS has ever staged. All Rise is Marsalis' rarely performed tour de force 1999 symphony, and it will feature more than 200 people on stage, including the JLCO with Wynton Marsalis, the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, University of Michigan Choirs, and the UMS Choral Union. There will be so many musicians and singers performing at once that Hill's stage had to be extended to fit all of them. (Read more about the history of All Rise here.)

Since Marsalis' Ann Arbor appearance coincides with the Wolverines' football game against Indiana (October 15), he's going to take the field at halftime with the University of Michigan Marching Band. He'll also have a conversation with the university's athletic director, Warde Manuel, a fellow New Orleans native, and Christopher Audain, managing director of U-M's Arts Initiative, as part of the Penny Stamps Speaker Series at the Michigan Theater (October 12).

In between all that music and talk, Marsalis and JLCO will be playing for and working with students via master classes and workshops in Ann Arbor, Milan, Ypsilanti, and Detroit as well as performing an in-person and live-streamed school-day concert for K-12 students (October 13).

In fact, Marsalis' dedication to providing educational opportunities to students and the general public is a big reason why UMS is able to bring him and the JLCO to Ann Arbor for such an ambitious array of events. The residency was sponsored by Peter and Elaine Schweitzer. Peter is a U-M grad (class of '61) and a big fan of New Orleans-inspired jazz. He got to know Marsalis during one of JLCO's holiday shows in Ann Arbor, but it was the many learning opportunities that Marsalis has created for the public that cemented Peter's desire to help bring this residency to life.

“During my cross-country road trips, I listened to recordings of Wynton, NPR programs he hosted, watched Ken Burns’ documentary on him—really anything I could find," Peter said in a UMS article documenting how he and his wife became the residency's sponsors. "I became a member at Jazz at Lincoln Center so I’d get updates and new educational resources, and, when UMS brought JLCO’s Swing University series to its community during the pandemic, I watched every episode.”

If you want to understand blues, jazz, swing, and the heart of American music, follow Peter Schweitzer's example: listen to Wynton Marsalis and the JLCO, whether they're talking or playing.

Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.

For tickets and more information on Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra's weeklong residency in Ann Arbor, visit ums.org.