As a student at Boston Arts Academy, Faraday Fontimus, 16, sometimes feels a disconnect between himself and other teens. A trumpet player, he prefers listening to jazz, a form of music many of his friends can’t understand.
“The music of my generation is rap,” he said. “My friends can’t find a way to appreciate jazz. They’ll tell me it’s nice, but they don’t really appreciate it.”
Fontimus and his classmates got some positive reinforcement today when they came to Harvard University for a special panel discussion with celebrated jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.
“To restore integrity to music, we need musicians with integrity,” Marsalis told them, noting how as a young man he turned down record companies that wanted him to compromise his music. “Your integrity starts with you.”
Over the course of a 90-minute discussion, students from local high schools and Harvard College asked Marsalis a variety of questions, ranging from how music aided integration, the role of women in jazz, and if the Internet could be a platform for revitalizing music.
“There’s more music available,” Marsalis responded to the latter. “But I haven’t found that the musicians in our country have gotten better as a result. Yes, the music is there, but what are people actually looking at?���
The discussion was a follow-up to Marsalis’ lecture at Sanders Theatre on Thursday, which focused on the evolution of dance in American culture. It was the second in Marsalis’ two-year lecture series at the University. For the Boston Arts Academy students, Marsalis’ words were a reinforcement of all that they are working toward.
“While I have a passion [for jazz], I’ve never been able to verbalize why,” explained Elideusa Gomes-Almeida, a 17-year-old jazz vocalist. “Listening to him made me realize why I do what I do.”