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February 4, 2021 40 mins

After a year in which we were all forced to improvise, and some of the most fundamental ideas and foundations of our society have been challenged, there may be no better art form to help us understand these times than jazz. In many ways, jazz is the music of democracy at its best, and shows how we can find harmony with one another and work together to become a more inclusive, kinder, and equitable nation. 

In the premier episode of his podcast, President Clinton sits downs with one of the world’s most influential jazz artists, Wynton Marsalis, to hear powerful stories about Wynton’s life, how his recent works “The Ever Fonky Lowdown” and “The Democracy! Suite” are blueprints to help us decode and overcome the forces that divide us, and what he learned from his father, who he lost to COVID-19 early in the pandemic.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:06):
I've loved jazz ever since I was a little boy,
and part of what makes it so unique is that
it's like any other form of music. There is a tune,
you have to know, a key, you've got to play
it in a chord structure you have to follow. But
to be really faithful to jazz, you have to both
stay within those parameters and make things up a little

(00:27):
as you go along. To make the most of a song,
you've got to both play it and create out of it.
So why am I telling you this? I've been thinking
about that a lot over the last several months as
we've been living through these unprecedented times. We've all been
forced to improvise. But if we can do it in
harmony with one another, we have the chance to reimagine

(00:50):
what our entire society looks like and how it operates,
and come out on the other side of this as
a more inclusive, kinder, equitable, and successful nation. If there's
no better art form to explain these times in jazz,
then I'm very lucky to have with me today one
of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, my longtime

(01:13):
friend went to Marsalis. Wenten is arguably the greatest trumpeter alive.
He's won nine Grammys. He's the only artist ever to
win Grammys in the same year for both jazz and
classical records, and he did it twice. In his early twenties,
he became the first jazz musician to receive the Fuel

(01:34):
of Surprise from Music. He's received both the National Medal
of Arts and the National Humanities Medal, and performed for
Hillary and Me at the White House that one of
our national Millennium events with Marion McPartland. The main guest
was President Buckliffe Hovel of the Czech Republic. He led
perhaps the only peaceful revolution in the world, powered by jazz.

(01:59):
They met in the Jazz Clubs. It's co founder of
Jazz at the Lincoln Center. Wentn't has helped to grow
the global jazz community through performance, advocacy, and education. He's
a passionate champion of equality and social justice, constantly using
his gifts to celebrate our common humanity and to show
us what we can do if we work together. That's

(02:23):
true more than anything else, and two of his most
recent works, The Democracy Suite and The ever Funky Lowdown.
I've been Blessed to know went in for more than
twenty five years now, and I've had a lot of
chances to listen to and to learn from him. I
come away from every performance or conversation knowing I have

(02:43):
learned from listening, and knowing now I have a deeper
appreciation for jazz, for America, for the human experience, and
for Winting Marsalis. I very I had to talk to
him now went and welcome. Yes, sir, it's a great pleasure,

(03:05):
on of course, to sit out and talk with you,
as it always is. So thank you for that that
very flowery introduction and all those all those kind acones.
Thank you. I remember once I was talking to you
on the phone and I asked you how much of
your great gift was God given and how much it

(03:26):
was his work. And I told you a story about
how I decided not to become a musician when I
was sixteen. I looked in the mirror and I said,
I'm happier playing my saxophone than anything I've ever done.
But no matter how hard I work, I'll never be
as good as Cold Frank. And uh, you said something

(03:47):
to me about Cold frand I'll never forget. You said, yeah,
that's true, but he said, don't underestimate hard work. And
you sent me a tape of Coltrane playing at age seventeen.
You remember that, Remember that he said he's flapped half
the time. And I listened to you and I realized
that was true, and how much better he got the

(04:09):
longer he lived. And then I realized that at seventeen
and flat, he was better than I ever thought about.
I love that you re ready's today tap of him
in the navy, that's right. But he I think he
gave my seventeen or nineteen. Yeah, well, you know, we
like to We like the joke. But I always love
the fact that you you played, and you brought that

(04:32):
consciousness to people, you know, And I think that that's
one thing that's been truly been lost and our political discourse,
looking at all the debates, everything that's going on, and
you take the pick the years you want. Did the
power of our arts and the American arts to heal us,
to bring us together? The virtuosity of the artists, the
kind of hipness and the soulfulness of a Coltrane. None

(04:52):
of us are gonna play like Train. I mean, you know,
Train was was what Train was. But the fact that
we know John Coltrane, and we know what I Love
Supreme is, and we know what jazz is. It was
always kind of a binding thing, like, yes, Coltrane had
prodigious talent, but he didn't he wasn't like Charlie Parker,
and he felt like he had no talent. And yes,
Coltrane worked this behind off and he became much much

(05:15):
better as the years past. Those two things are always
true about him. And it was also true as it
doesn't mean you will practice and be as great as
him in terms of whatever you're aspiring to. But in
jazz you can achieve the sound of your person. Nothing
keeps you from achieving that. It's just depends on what
your definition of virtuosity is. And I know the things

(05:37):
you learned just from being a jazz musician, once you
were able to apply them to all the other things
that you knew, that just made you so much stronger
in dealing with other people. Because jazz is a very
empathetic music. We've often talked about her. Jazz is more
than just America's original unique art form, but really it's
the music of democracy at its best, and as you've said,

(05:59):
part of america mythology At what point in your career
did you think about the connection of jazz to democracy
and what prompted you to do it. I think early on,
because I grew up with a jazz musician and always
hearing my father and the other musicians talk about America,

(06:19):
and also my my father's viewpoint. He was always in
the barbershop arguing against points of view that we all
had in the seventies. That was the Black Power time
and the kind of first time black people had a voice,
and the younger people we had our afros and our
our platform shoes and all the things that we had,
and we were all talking in the same way that

(06:40):
we had been talked to. And my father was always
so so even minded. At that time, of course it
was an embarrassment to me, but he was always speaking
for against racism, against retaliation against people, always at a
very deep spiritual connection to the human condition as a whole.
He always was talking about larger thoughts and that was

(07:01):
not what we were thinking about. So I always connected
jazz to a democracy through him and other jazz musicians.
What do you make of this last selection? Is that
an affirmation of our common humanity or a reaffirmation of
our deep divisions. You know, I think that is both
it ties into what we were talking about with jazz

(07:22):
because it just so so happens at the fact that
we have the type of diversity we have in our democracy,
uh is making it hard to undermine the will of
the voter, and we have that with in jazz bands,
with an individual who is improvising, with the collective of
the group playing a written part or improvising. A lot
of the stuff we do is by choice. The rhythm

(07:42):
section is considered to be the back line and the
horns are called the front line, but the rhythm section
defines the music. So we have horn players versus a
rhythm section versus us as a group, and we find
that dynamic playing out. That's interesting that the states are now,
regardless of party, upon you to be loyal to government,

(08:03):
regardless of party, and that has a lot in common
with jazz because a single solos can stand up and
play thirty minutes a solo themselves, and the band has
to has to police what's going on, it has to choose. Hey,
it's it's six of us up here. You can't play
a thirty minute solo if you're a drummer. You're okay,
you have the loudest instrument, but no one can hear

(08:24):
anything but drums, so we see. I don't know, I'm
giving you kind of long, long answer. But this election
and all of this is so so so full of
implication because, as you know, a democracy is not a
given in the world, no, and they're very hard to preserve.
Ours has been around a long time, and people take

(08:45):
a lot of things for granted once it's been around
a long time, and so everybody levels around the edges
to take advantage of getting what they want until pretty
seting the foundations are weak, and I think that's what's
happening to us, but this could be strengthening. One of
the things I liked about ever funking lowdown is that

(09:06):
you basically talk about how this divisiveness its us in
them world is kind of like a drug. You you
get addicted to it. You've got to be against something
in somebody, and reconciliation takes is harder work. I remember
I spent three billion dollars of the American people's tax

(09:29):
money to sequence the human genome, and the most important
thing we learned from a political and social point of
view is that we're all nine and nine and a
half per cents the same, but we spend nine and
nine and a half a percent of our time focusing
on the half of percent. Now, to turn everything into
a zero sum game is a bad way to run

(09:50):
a railroad or a country. And I see you trying
to be a force for reconciliation, and I think that
live in a time where, in different ways, almost all
of us are being programmed right for division right. And
you know, when you look at the religious traditions, if

(10:12):
we look into Junior Christian traditional, what the devil does,
the devil symbolically simplifies. So for those who may not
believe in in that religion or have a different belief system,
it's a simplification to take all nuances out and give
you a non choice choice, and then the ever funky lowdown.
That's what Mr Game does. He points out that there

(10:33):
are others. Then he tells you what's wrong with them.
I think I heard that they've been committing the various
climes and they don't believe in God. Then he says
you have to beat them. We must strike first to
prevent what they may be trying to do to us,
and to save them, and the ever funky lowdown is
when you've beaten them. He says, losers want to be winners.
He speaks in the terms of losers and winners. And

(10:55):
then what the losers have to do is they have
to accommodate the winner's vision of them. Let me take
you back to the school yard. Most kids just give
in and follow the bully, but a few back away,
threatening some type of retaliation. Whether subservient or resistant, each
will adjust their philosophy to accommodate defeat. That's the illusion

(11:15):
of choice, the old binary hustle. Let's see versus who too,
God fearing versus heathens, Democrats versus Republicans. Yes, there are
two sides to every coin, but it's still the same coin.
Losers have two choices. Entertain us by playing out our

(11:36):
vision of them as meek, emasculated justice or excite us
playing out our vision of them as dangerous, captured savages.
It's much more provocative when you when you begin to
attack people or attack something. But still, if you take
the most brilliant of all of us, we still don't
know anything in relation to what there is to be known,

(11:57):
because we can't rise above whatever our press active may
happen to be. The problem of human living requires more
than the vision of a single person, whoever that person is.
We say in our trumpets section, it's four of us
and one of our trumpet players we were going to
play a party was written for me, but he would
have been much better playing it. His name is Marcus
print Up. So when I said, I think Printaple played

(12:20):
this part much better, we all knew he would. So
the catch of the band all started laughing, Oh, give
it to print You're scared to play your part. You're
scared to play the part. And Printer said, well, it's
four of us back here, and we all have different
things we do, but if you put the four of
us together, we make one hell of a trumpet player.
So it's like to conceive of the talent that we
have in the world or in the United States of America,

(12:43):
that we only have a vision of how to keep
other people down or beat up on people who don't
have agency, and people with the most agency in the
society spent a lot of that time figuring out how
to how to work on a sophisticated kleptocracy. And that's
on both sides of the coin instead of figuring out
how a free to potential in all the power we
have and bringing us together and using our intellectual firepower,

(13:06):
spiritual firepower, and the best of our tradition. Because the
best of our tradition is us coming together. We should
never forget even something that's divisive as race relations. And
you know, I'm a Southerner. I grew up with great
uh prejudice and ignorance and in segregation. I don't play
around with it. I never joke or act like it
wasn't for real. It's for real, and it was for real.

(13:27):
But when I look through my own history, can I
honestly say I didn't have white Americas that said, well,
I'm with you in this struggle. And I think that
our mythology hurts us as a nation because whenever there's
something negative, it's picked upon and it's spread and the
legacy of success that we've had has to be used

(13:47):
to combat all of the many failures we've had. Harmony,
that's right, harmony. My little brother asked me what is
the opposite of disharmony, and I said, unison. Wow, So
we started to laugh. We started to laugh about it
because because because dis harmony and chaos. When you talk
about dis harmony and chaos, uh, the you you would

(14:11):
think that the opposite of it is harmony, But actually
the opposite of it is unison because everybody playing the
same thing. That's also what you do not want. You
don't want everybody having the same opinion. You want to
be forced to harmonize with people, to make choices to
go in and out in harmony is one of the
greatest arts of music. I wanted, asked Lenda Bernstein about harmony.

(14:33):
I'd read his his class on harmony of the Young
People's Council. He said, Man, that's the most difficult thing
to to describe, he said, because harmony is like a
conversation in which a person is the center of the
conversation in one moment and their point of view is
absolutely of no interest. They have to become active as listeners,
he said. So in harmony progression, you know, at one

(14:54):
point a note C may be the root of the
card and the most important thing, he said, But the
very next second that may be a flat thirteen of
some upper extension of the of the harmony. And then
on the next it may be a note that does
not even sound. So it's it's an art that it's vertical.
It lays out in blocks, and it's horizon, it lays
out in time. So I think, Uh, yeah, what you're

(15:16):
saying about harmony, it's it's a very complex thing to
teach and to understand more with my guests went to
Marsalis after this. Let me ask you about another recent

(15:41):
fist you did, the Democracy Suite. Uh, what did you
want the message to be? And if jazz loving policeman
in New York hered it, how would you like him
to feel? Um, I would like him to feel that
he's a part of a great ongoing process that needs

(16:03):
his industry and his energy to take us to a
higher and better place that he may want to go in.
One of my best friends in the world was a
Chicago City policeman in what Chicago. I was the best
man in his wedding, Officer Tony Parker, and Uh, we
were good friends. We are good friends and will will
be good friends for life. And we've argued the kind

(16:24):
of police abuse and arguing and all the stuff that
goes on. And I think that it's it's important for
us to understand that corruption exists everywhere in the system,
and and for us to not give people who are
not corrupt put them in a place where they have
to co sign corruption, but also to not act like

(16:44):
we don't know that there is corruption. So I think
in the Democracy Suite, I deal with all things that
we all have dealt with in this time. Spotlight on
one of the movements in the Democracy Suite that dance
we do that you know we love to do, and
that's about all the different protests around the world where
people found a solidarity with with Brianna Taylor, George Floyd.

(17:05):
They found that because the people everyone in the world
can can identify with not having agency and not having
power and being abused by an individual or group that
does have power. So I tried to not simplify by

(17:45):
things into black white issues or right wrong issues, but
I try to try to bring nuances in that way
to to the dance we do. Even in the course
of protests and people hitting tambourines, playing grooves, singing, infect
your songs, and it does not make the song less
serious or less for real and keeping their slogans black

(18:05):
lives matter. It's not less real than we shall overcome.
The one kind of somber movement. It's not even somber.
It's called Deeper than dreams, and it's about all of
us who lost loved ones during this period that you
didn't get a chance to say goodbye to your loved one.
That transcends all politics and all other things. So I

(18:26):
tell my friends sometimes they say, man, I h you
know I can't sleep at night. I said, well, that's
the old folks coming to you. They're coming to you
because they y'all have to heal in a space that's
deeper than dreams. Uh. You lost your dad earlier this

(19:01):
year to COVID. Uh. We had a good, long life
and left a remarkable legacy, and you and his other sons.
From the first time I ever heard about you, listen
to your brother Branford player. I've always been fascinated by
your family story and the role your father played, and

(19:22):
the letter you wrote in tribute to him was one
of the most moving things I think I ever read,
and all the more powerful for saying that your hurt
was no more valid or stronger than that of so
many others who lost people, which I think your dad
also said, not long for it. So tell us about

(19:43):
him and what impact he had on your growing up
and on your life and what impact is loss has
had on what you do now? Well, you know, for
I appreciate you your comments on him. I mean, he
was my man, you know, went from the time I
was born as like I hung with him and it
was not glamorous like he was just he was a guy.

(20:06):
My father was not a a physical guy, heroic wanting
to whatever strike want to strike people or be uh.
He was very philosophical person who who when he was
growing up. He told me he had gotten bullied by
people because that wasn't his personality. And I learned more
about what it meant to be a human being just

(20:28):
watching him. He talked to everybody the same. If he
had the chance to meet you, he would be honest.
He would be just as respectful as he would with
a homeless person in the street. He would talk to
homeless cats and come back, man, this cat had an
interesting story. You see. He used to be an architect.
He could go into the whole thing that he had
talked about. And I saw my father playing empty clubs

(20:49):
for for the seventeen years I lived with him. I
saw him be in situations that would humiliate any person.
Each handled it all with racy sophistication. He studied, he practiced,
he taught. He was a person of the community. He
played for no people. He played just as hard to
an empty room as he would play for people. I

(21:11):
always tell the one story, I never really liked jazz
growing up. I was just always I like to be
in clubs and here older people down on their luck.
Here the stuff they talked about, all the kind of
nasty talking things that went on. So I always loved
being in an environment. And I was fortunate to be
in the environment because I was with him. I knew
how to be quiet, how to just be in my space.

(21:31):
But I loved that. I did not like the music
that much. When I started to get into the music,
I was eleven or going into being twelve, and he
played in the club called Lewin Charlie's, and it was
late at night. He closed the club up. There was
nobody in this club but one man who was drunk.
And I went to my father and I said, man,
let's go. You know, it's two o'clock, it's only me

(21:51):
and you. Let's let's look this guy here. He was drunk,
and we looked out into the club. Empty club nobody
in it. My father playing at piano. My father looks
at me and he he says, Man, this gig against
at two thirty and to thirty. Man, let's get this
guy out of here and close up. Charlie is the
old club on it. Charlie is gone. Let's let's go home.
We had a thirty minute drive home. My daddy told me, man,

(22:14):
sit your ass down and listen to some music for
a change. So it actually was. It was actually funny
because it's only meet him. So I actually sat down
and for all the years of being in the club,
then I guess since I was two years old, I've
been in clubs, it's the first time I really just
really listened to him playing. Now. Of course, I grew
up here in practice, so his song was a part
of my life. I looked around that club and I thought,

(22:36):
what makes a person do what this man is doing?
Playing for no people it two in the morning, and uh,
you know that that shaped my life, like just the
integrity he showed. And he played a pile of piano

(22:59):
in that thirty minutes. And then I said to myself,
I wonder if I could learn how to play like him,
because I mainly teased him at because he was such
a serious man. I was always joking with him, even
the last conversation I had with him before he before
he went in the hospital and then he died a
few days after that. I was teasing and messing with
him and always kind of joking, joking with him that

(23:20):
I could play better than him piano. I played my
piano and play some ones, you know, start playing some
courts like him. This just favorite chord. He would play
this big six nine chord. So you always played and
you go. He always played those kind of little phrases.

(23:42):
I would start playing him and said, man, you better
look out. I'm coming for you. So yeah, I remember,
I remember that night. And there's so many other things.
My daddy was so fair with people, and he had
such integrity about things. You couldn't buy him out. He
didn't remember. When I made a little money. I was
twenty one twenty two. I said, man, let me get
your house. He said, man, you you felipe. I don't
need you to get me a house. I'm comfortable in

(24:02):
my own house. So he he was just philosophically. If
you were if you acted small, or you did something
that was small. He would call you on it. He
hated for you to call people them. He said, who
is they? Man? Who is they? That's why I wrote
a movement and the ever fun get Down called they
because he tell me who they are? Do you know them?
What's their name? And so many other things I could

(24:24):
tell you. I mean, I just he was. He was
such a he was such a big person. I remember once.
I'm gonna just tell you this one last story to
just about who he was. When I first came to
New York, I started to get a lot of publicity,
and I talked a lot. So the older musicians really
didn't like me. And I was always talking about the
integrity and music and all these things that were far

(24:45):
beyond what my playing earned me the write to talk about.
From a philosophical standpoint, what I was saying was not inaccurate,
but I shouldn't have been saying it, you know. And
I went back to New Orleans to play a gig,
and my father always let me see there with him,
and then this gig he did, he didn't call me
up on the band stand. So the whole time I

(25:05):
was standing the man I was I was getting, I said,
he just like these other musicians in New York. Then finally,
on the last tune, he brought me up on the
band stand. I was dealing with all kind of emotion
and angry at him that he was mad because I
had become successful and uh so I played and as
we were walking off the band stand, thinking all the
stuff I was thinking, my father put his arm around
me and he said, man, I'm sorry about my rhythm section.

(25:29):
I really didn't want to call you up at all.
So I started laughing. I told him, but I said, man,
I was thinking so many small thoughts. And he just
looked at me and shook his head. He said, boy,
this cat so you know he was Yeah, he was.
He was. He was a good person. I mean he
had a good heart and a good, good feeling to him.

(25:52):
We'll be right back. Hi, this is Bill Clinton. I

(26:15):
hope you're enjoying. Why am I telling you this? After
leaving the White House, I wanted to keep working on
issues I cared about where I believed I could still
make a difference and help a lot of people. I
started the Clinton Foundation on the belief that everyone deserves
the chance to succeed, Everyone has a responsibility to act
and we all do better when we work together. In

(26:38):
the twenty years since the Foundation first opened its doors
in Harlem, we've brought people together across traditional divides to
address some of the most complex and pressing challenges of
our time. From our earliest efforts to expand access to
life saving HIV AIDS medications from millions of people around
the globe and promote healthy eating and physical activity in

(26:58):
American schools, to our programs helping Puerto Rico and our
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the intensifying impacts of climate change, to distributing resources for
parents and caregivers to promote early learning in school readiness,
and providing meals and essential items for vulnerable populations in
and around Little Rock. The Clinton Foundation is still putting

(27:21):
people first and creating a culture of possibility. We couldn't
do any of it without your support. I hope you'll
take a moment to share your thoughts and ideas with
us and learn more about our work by visiting www
dot Clinton Foundation dot org. Slash podcast. Thank you. You know.

(27:49):
One of the things that I always liked you did
was your interests in autism. Hillary was on the Autism
Caucus in the Senate. And I remember when she ran
for president in two thousand and eight. We do these
front porch rallies, you know, when there'll be people there.
Maybe there's fifty people and maybe there's three hundred. I
would always mention autism and how she was the first

(28:13):
person ever to have a position on autism. And I
promise you there was not one single solitary event I
ever did, not one where someone didn't mention to me
after when I was shaking hands. You know, my sister
has it, might have a child with it. Here's my
spectrum is very broad. Here's my fifteen year old who's

(28:36):
got autism and he's running for class president. I mean,
I think that it's kind of like this coronavirus, you
know it, when that virus goes chasing you, your Republican
or Democratic credentials don't keep it out. And that's the
way autism. And when you know, because you've got in
your family, you've got to be pretty flexible and how

(28:57):
you deal with it. I think I think we we
so much of a human condition unifies us, you know, childbirth, adolescence, death, loss,
all these things we all are experience them. Any health
crisis you have, everybody is having it. If you have it,
you have art conditioned. A lot of people have art conditions,

(29:18):
mental conditions. People have it. And uh, I learned so
much from having a brother that was severely artistic growing up,
just to see kind of the impact on the family
and not knowing what then. We didn't know what it
was even to describe somebody in my neighborhood what autism was.
They thought we were saying artistic. They say, man, that's great.
You know what, what what is this? What does he?

(29:40):
Is he a paint or whatever? You know, artism? What
is that? So I think, yeah, and I also agree
with you. The coronavirus can be a great rally and crying.
I think the last movement of the democracy Suite. I
wrote a piece called That's when all We'll see And

(30:04):
what it's about is that you see in our country
after nine eleven, the things people did to come together
after the the Katrina. I thought that was a fantastic
national story. Yes, there's a lot of government in the aptitude.
There was a lot of things to complain about. Corruption,
stealing always goes on, But when you look at what

(30:25):
the citizens of the United States of America did for
citizens of New Orleans all up and down this country.
It's an unbelievable national success story, but it remains in
natural memory is something that left a bad taste. You know.
Of course the city made decisions it made. It were
not intelligent decisions, but the feeling of the people that

(30:45):
came out in that time being a New Orleanans going
around asking people for help for New Orleans. There was
an unbelievable outpouring of love and of citizenship and of
help that was very tangible to hundreds of thousands of people.
And that's when all wins will see says, we have
so many points of connection, and we continue to override

(31:06):
those instances to find a way to hate each other
and to continue the legacy of hatred and to allow
leaders to drag us down that road. And not just leaders,
political leaders. Anyone who is willing to exploit a populace
for some type of gain and agency is a master's
in a slave narrative, and that masters slave mythology that

(31:27):
only a handful of people can have agency and the
rest of y'all, y'all better work for us and just
be exploited. When an actuality. Everything great in the world
is showing us that we live in an unbelievable ball
of creativity, that we can create more and more and
more increase as we free more and more and more
creative people. And the arts is the best place to

(31:49):
begin to adjust your understanding of a common humanity. And
we as Americans, for some reason, have never been able
to find or locate the arts in a in a
position on our national radar, not even an unimportant position,
lit a long the position of prominence it needs to
occupy for us to do what we need to do
to get the nourishment that it most clearly provides. Let

(32:11):
me ask you before we finish, because a lot of
people will be listening to this who maybe never been
to New Orleans, and it's one of my favorite places
on earth. And I was honored to work for years
on in the afrimath of Katrainer to try to help
the whole Golf Coast, but especially the Crescent City to recover.

(32:32):
If you were talking to total stranger who had never
been out of Alaska about what you got out of
being born in and growing up and around there and
then that culture, what would you say to them? Um,
I would say a sing song way of approaching bad

(32:52):
things did happen? And a full culture because it's there's
a lot of soul for people in Alaska to now.
I've been I played there, I played up in old
old Alaska. But we have a full culture. We have
our own art, we have our own music, we have
our own architecture, we have our own stories, we have
our own and the sing song like so, if you're
not against a sing a sing song, skip a dance

(33:14):
a way to approach the tragedies of life when you
when you you understand how much, what what type of
armor and shield that is. I remember you and I talked.
You were president then, and you told me, I don't
know if you can remember this. You said, Man, I
just came back from from New Orleans and Bourbon Street Man,
that was some of the worst music I ever heard
in my life. What can we do to get people

(33:35):
back to playing New Orleans music. I told my daddy
that he loved that. He says he knows what's happening. Yeah,
I was upset because there was nobody playing. There was nobody,
you know, you had to except for presidenttion Hall. There
was nothing going on. It was no New Orleans music. Yeah,
I saw you once on television and you didn't have

(33:55):
a horn in your hand. You were given a college
lecture about music, and I was I was doing something else.
I just sort of saw it as I was passing
by a TV and I sat down and listened to
the whole thing, and I thought, it's relatively rare for
a person to be gifted at anything, be a great golfer,

(34:20):
be a great track star, be a great anything, who
is also a profoundly great teacher of it. And the
thing that is to me has been greatest about jazz
at the Lincoln Center over all these years, and all
those young people you've brought in there, all of them,
you've taught, many of them had the pleasure to hear

(34:43):
play from time to time. Where'd you get that? And
how can we value that more? Well? I appreciate your
olver assessment of my abilities, so thank you. But it's
all my daddy stuff, you know. I mean, I just
he was a great teacher, and I just was always
around him, seeing him in the way he would teach.

(35:04):
And then also as experience for me, I've been teaching
since I did my first class in East St. Louis
when I was eighteen for high school students, I was
on the road plan with our Blakey And I think
just having that good example of my father and the
many great teachers I've had and work with Jazlyne Consenter.
We have education Department and twelve education programs and we

(35:25):
get great students and they also teach, so you know,
I just think that, uh, it's just there are there
are many fantastic teachers across the United States and the world,
and they do their work every day with with Noah
Hoopla and just to be in that lineage and in
that line and to have respect and to have a
veneration for information and for education and for knowledge. A

(35:48):
democracy has to have that, because as as we lose
our relationship with the process of learning things, we're gonna
be more and more susceptible to the cheapest forms of populism.
As we are in music. If you look at the
American Music Awater, Yeah, you have to laugh at some
of this stuff. Man, So much of it is trash.
But that's where we are, and for us to reform it,

(36:10):
we've got to start with a baseline of education and
in a belief in in knowing. And I think, uh,
I come from the Blues tradition, and in that tradition
we but we always believe we're believers, and and and
I always want people to know that your belief is
an action. With trump at playing, always teach when you

(36:32):
take a breath, everything that's in that breath is what's
gonna come out of your sound. Doesn't cost you anything
to take a breath. When you take that breath, fill
that breath with the most meaningful things that you want
to play, and then it will come out. And a
thought is an action. So I want us to deal
with I thought. I I believe in you, I believe

(36:52):
in this process. I believe in people. I believe that
we can get from point A to point to point
see and that we will not descend into chaos and
killing each other because we it would have been easy
for us to do that before now, and we have
not done it. So I don't need the evidence to
believe in that. I am going to be the evidence

(37:14):
of it, and that we were all doing all we
can to make the life that we live better. Maybe
it begins a boy takeing using people to take a
deep breath, A deep breath, full of something meaningful. You
know when I was when I was a boy, I
was closed and I was in the school band. I
used to go to this clinic and we had a

(37:36):
high school band director in Arkansas who played first trumpet
and John Phillips Susan's last band. I love that and
it was a knight of Arkansas, like just having to
be here. And he said, if you can learn when
to breathe and how to control your breath, you will
control your mind, you will control your heart, you will

(37:58):
build a life. And he would start these teaching things
about taking this trumpet and flaying what seemed forever. He
could hold his breath twice as long as any of
us and maintain the clarity and purity of the note.
And I think that that's the legacy that you have
given the many of us. We listen to you. We'd

(38:19):
love to hear you play, we'd love to hear your talk.
But you touch our hearts and our minds and give
us a chance to learn in harmony and creativity. Thank you,
Thank you so much. Mr President has been honest speaking
with you. Let me just close this one thing out.
We're talking now, and you're giving us knowledge about something

(38:40):
that's spiritualist breath from an everyday teacher, and that's what
where the belief in the hope comes from. And you've
been the President of the United States of America, and
that consciousness is in you, and that's how that's how
close we are in the world. So thank you for
allowing me to join you always with the deepest love
and respect. Thank you, You wouldn't bless you. And thanks. Yes, sir,

(39:39):
why am I telling you? This is a production of
our Heart Radio, the Clinton Foundation and at Will Media.
Our executive producers are Craig Manascian and Will Malnady. Our
production team includes Mitch Bluestein, Jamison cat Sufis, Tom Galton,
Sarah Harrow Woods, and Jake Young, with production support from
Tyler Scott and I'll Tavia Young. Original music by What White.

(40:04):
Special thanks to John Sichs, Tina Finois, John Davidson on
Hell Arena, Corey Gantley, Oscar Flores, Kevin Thurm, and all
our dedicated staff and partners at the Clinton Foundation. If
you have an idea of suggestion for the show, we'd
love to hear from you, so please visit Clinton Foundation
dot org Slash Podcast to share your thoughts with us.

(40:27):
If you like the show, tell someone else about it.
You can subscribe to who Am I Telling You This
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you get your podcast. By listening to this podcast, you're
helping support the work of the Clinton Foundation, so thank you.
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