‘Continue to fight for the world you envision’

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Wynton Marsalis once again takes a long hard look at America on his latest offering with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra — “The Ever Fonky Lowdown.”

The album, released on Blue Engine Records, uses satire, a Greek-style chorus, narration from celebrated actor Wendell Pierce (from “The Wire,” “Treme,” “Jack Ryan” and other works) and a mix of jazz, funk and other styles to address corruption, racism, greed and more.

“The Ever Fonky Lowdown” follows, while also building upon, the artist’s many other socio-cultural examinations, such as 1997’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Blood on the Fields” and 2002’s acclaimed “All Rise.”

I recently had the chance to talk with the amazing trumpeter and bandleader, who is the managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Q Where are you spending your time these days — sheltering in place, social distancing and whatnot?

A Man, I’m all over. But I live in New York. So, I’ve been there more than anyplace. What about you?

Q I’m in San Jose.

A (Breaks into song) “Do you know the way to San Jose?”

Q I do!

A (Laughs)

Q Since you’re in New York, I figure you’re a good person to address the bad rap we keep hearing about Big Apple – that it’s the end of New York City as we know it and it will never be the same again after coronavirus. Is that rap overblown or what?

A It’s definitely overblown. Human beings come back. Let’s remember that the Jazz Age took place after the Spanish flu. Louis Armstrong was talking about how he survived the flu in 1918. He was in Chicago in 1923. He was in New York at 1925. There was no mention of Spanish flu in any of them after that.

(New York) will be back.

Q Tell me about what’s going on at Jazz at Lincoln Center these days, given that the coronavirus has brought  live performances to a halt for now.

A We just put out (“The Ever Fonky Lowdown”). We are going to put out another album with Sesame Street, I think it’s at the end of October. We have a Chris Crenshaw piece called “Conglomerate” that’s going to come out.

We are going to do a Christmas show that’s going to have component parts to it. We are going to put on an Ella Fitzgerald show.

We’re going to continue to work.

It’s a very difficult time for us. But it’s encouraging, in this time, for me to see the way my colleagues have worked and how much work they’ve put into it and how much they believe in the mission of the organization.

It’s been a very enlightening and uplifting period, though very difficult.

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