- Wynton Marsalis was a gifted jazz trumpeter who championed the value of jazz history and jazz masters. But, people eventually criticized him for being too focussed on tradition, and of being a neotraditionalist.
- Marsalis has stopped releasing new jazz music. Famous jazz labels have also stopped releasing new music: instead they focus on the classics.
- People blame Marsalis for the lack of new music. They claim he made jazz like a museum, and stifled innovation. People are afraid to depart from jazz orthodoxy.
- Marsalis actually advocated that new artists mix tradition and innovation in their work. But, music executives took a different message: because past artists are so great, record labels shouldn’t invest in new, young artists
- Record labels saw the old jazz masters as brand names, and realized it was more profitable to simply publish classic brands.
This passage is somewhat unfocussed. There are three groups:
- Marsalis, and what he actually recommends (lines 37-45)
- Critics of Marsalis. They accuse him of stifling innovation. See lines 27-36
- Record labels. Independently of Marsalis, they’ve realized it’s more profitable to focus on classic jazz artists. See lines 46-58
It sounds like the critics of Marsalis are wrong. They saw a change happening, and blamed him. But really, they misunderstood his message. Meanwhile, the lack of support from the labels was mainly due to the profits of classic jazz, and not to Marsalis’ message.
However, Marsalis may bear some indirect responsibility for showing record labels that there was a large and profitable market for classic jazz (as distinct from new jazz). So, the critics are right to blame him, but their reasons are mostly wrong.
Note that paragraph 2 is a bit of an odd inclusion. It’s not clear why the author mentions Marsalis’ 15 CDs, or his lack of a current contract. I suspect this paragraph was put in merely to muddy the waters a bit and divert readers (i.e. you) from the main point of the passage, which is in paragraph 5.
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