The Spark with Wynton Marsalis and Carlos Henriquez

This story was originally posted as part of CPA at Home, our COVID-era digital content platform.

Famed trumpeter and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra artistic director Wynton Marsalis and JLCO bass player Carlos Henriquez go way back—all the way to when Henriquez was just a young teenager in the Bronx and impressed Marsalis with his swing rhythms on the bass. Fast forward to present day, and the musicians have performed and toured together for more than 20 years. Wynton is even godfather to one of Henriquez’s sons, who occasionally tag along on the JLCO tour.

In their fall 2020 interview with Tift Merritt on The Spark, Carlos referred to Wynton as “brother, father, friend,” and recalled the life-changing experiences he had as a teenager seeing the trumpeter play in New York City, before he himself went on to win Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival and joined the Septet and Orchestra just two years later.

While CPA audiences are no strangers to JLCO’s music—the orchestra has played on nearly every CPA season, and even performed their new program The Democracy! Suite virtually in early 2021 on CPA at Home—the conversation gave a level of insight ordinarily impossible to glean from stage performance. The pair covered everything from why finding one’s one sound as a musician is a bit like going through a tough breakup to investigating deeply embedded cultural and societal issues through art, and being part of the lineage and history of jazz. And naturally: a lighthearted argument about whether or not Carolina style barbecue is superior ensued with hometown host Tift.

Watch the entire episode on the Carolina Performing Arts YouTube channel, available on-demand until June 30, 2021.

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