"60 MINUTES" GOES ON THE ROAD WITH WYNTON MARSALIS AND JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA AS THEY BRING AMERICA'S ART FORM TO THE WORLD -- CBS SUNDAY
Morley Safer has traveled the world for 60 MINUTES for years, but never with so much great music as in this jazz journey he takes with Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Safer and 60 MINUTES cameras follow Marsalis and company to London and Havana to capture what these musical ambassadors do best - bring jazz, America's most distinct art form, to people everywhere. Safer's story will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday Jan. 2 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Marsalis' mission is a lifelong one. He grew up in one of the first families of New Orleans Jazz, his father, the famous New Orleans pianist and jazz influencer Ellis Marsalis. Jazz is a calling for Wynton. "I want us to give 100 percent all the time. We know that we're here to serve," says Marsalis to Safer while the band was in London. "Serve the music and to serve everyone who comes to check us out."
Then the journey took them directly across the Gulf of Mexico from New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, to Cuba - where the music is different but shares African roots in ancient drum beats that influence rhythms they call claves. Marsalis demonstrates with his clapping hands, "In New Orleans, our clave goes like this..." Then his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra bassist, Carlos Henriquez, snaps out the Havana clave. "It's all African," says Henriquez. Watch an excerpt.
60 MINUTES cameras recorded several performances by Marsalis and his band in Havana, in the streets, in halls and in music schools. Keeping the music alive, teaching the music, is a big part of what Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra is all about. When a young Cuban player turns up at the band's hotel to ask one of the band's saxophone players, Ted Nash, how to coax more soulful notes from her horn, he shows patience and dedication.
For Nash, such situations can fortify. "It's so beautiful to travel, because we get to mix with people, maybe at a point when we would normally be getting kind of worn out...we get kind of recharged a little bit from the energy of the people." Watch an excerpt.
For Marsalis, the traveling, the playing, the mission serves an even deeper cause. He's aware many do not know the famous people, like Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington, whose music he is not only playing, but preserving for the next generation. It's an important heritage like any other art form. "The arts are our collective human heritage," he tells Safer. "You're a better person if you know what Shakespeare was talking about. If you know what Beethoven struggled with, if you know about Matisse. If you know what Louis Armstrong actually sang through his horn, you're better," says Marsalis.