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On 16, Feb 2012 | No Comments | In | By admin

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.”

    About The Rockefeller Foundation

    About Sandra Day O’Connor

    About Wynton Marsalis

    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.

  • 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