That being said, while he has kept the flame of traditional and bebop jazz alive, he has also been an obstacle to moving jazz forward with a young generation of listeners. Wynton's emphasis on preaching history and tradition is partially responsible for sustaining the old stereotypes of what jazz music is. It has held back recognition of more modern jazz music that might otherwise flourish with a younger audience brought up with funk, hip-hop and rock influences.
Listen to brother Branford Marsalis, Terrance Blanchard, Robert Glasper and Nicholas Payton to name a few. I don't agree with everything these cats say, but you will hear a more open modern view as to the future of jazz. Watch the film Icons among us, Jazz in the Present Tense to see how this art form is evolving to relate more with a younger audience without compromising its creative spirit.
Unfortunately, these voices rarely get heard beyond jazz's "inner circle". Wynton Marsalis remains the de facto Ambassador of Jazz through his association with Jazz At Lincoln Center (JALC), CBS News and other mainstream outlets.
Don't get me wrong. I love Wynton's playing. I dig his music for what it is, jazz founded in the hard bop era. However, his words and music are not the future of jazz and it is not the music that will endear jazz to future generations.
View the full length feature, Icons Among Us on iTunes