A Celebration of America
It began one night over dinner, a casual conversation between a former Supreme Court Justice who grew up on a ranch in Arizona, and a trumpet virtuoso raised amid the music of New Orleans. It became A Celebration of America, a gala concert that took place in Washington DC on the eve of Barack Obama’s historic inauguration. It was presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center and sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Woven through a program of extraordinary music and hope, former Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis continued the conversation they’d begun a few months before. This series of taped segments are their riffs on why jazz music and the Constitution are uniquely American – and so very much alike.
In “American Art,” Justice O’Connor remembers how, while a college student at Stanford University, her boyfriend taught her to love jazz; Marsalis recalls his impatience as a child listening to jazz – before he was finally hooked by John Coltrane playing “My Favorite Things.”
In “Democracy,” Marsalis suggests to O’Connor that a jazz band is like our government. The drum is the President, he says. The bass is the judiciary. The piano – Congress. And when all the parts are balanced, well, you get great music.
And in “Unity,” Justice O’Connor and Marsalis relect on how both the culture of jazz and the Constitution are structured to bring people together – how jazz and democracy, at their best, appreciate the individual while inspiring each to work for the common good. “The Constitution,” Marsalis says, “is a supreme example of Swing.”
About Jazz at Lincoln Center
“Jazz – we play it, we teach it, we write it, we dance it, we sing it, we present it, we photograph it, we film it, we produce it, we archive it, we record it, we broadcast it, we commission it, we celebrate it, we love it, we share it.”
Let Freedom Swing
What happens when a legend of American law, Sandra Day O’Connor, sits down with a legend of American music, Wynton Marsalis? A freewheeling conversation about jazz and democracy in America.
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Producer/Director, Robe Imbriano
Graphics Designer, Victoria Nece
Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Director of Photography, Eddie Marritz
Associate Producer, Maria Matasar-Padilla
Production Associate, Greg Blanc
Second Cameraman, Michael Pruitt-Bruun
Sound, Mark Mandler
Gaffer, Ned Hallick
Production Manager, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Mike Kemp
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin