From the Plantation to the Penitentiary

The following is from Josh Schlactus’ class presentation:

Wynton Marsalis

  • Born in 1961 in New Orleans
  • Started playing trumpet when he was 6 years old
  • Known for contributions to both jazz and classical styles of music
  • Grammy and Pulitzer Award winner (multiple Grammys)

Basics about the Album:

  • “From the Plantation to the Penitentiary” was recorded, mixed, and mastered in 2006
    • Released in March 2007
  • It consists of 7 songs:
    • From the Plantation To the Penitentiary
    • Find Me
    • Doin’ (Y)our Thing
    • Love and Broken Hearts
    • Supercapitalism
    • These are Those Soulful Days
    • Where Y’all At
  • Includes a trumpet, tenor sax, soprano sax, piano, bass, drums and vocals (Jennifer Sanon)

Inspiration of the Album:

  • The Coexistence of good and evil
    • “Proportions of their coexistence is up to all of us”
                 – Stanley Crouch
  • Topics it covers:
    • Slavery
    • Incarceration
    • Education
    • Poverty
    • Kindness
    • Capitalism
    • Friendship
    • Taking personal responsibility

From the Plantation to the Penitentiary:

    • 2:00-2:45
  • Mix of groove (structured/repeating), and swing (smooth and flowing)
  • Goes through history in order
    • Discussing the horrors of slavery
    • Discusses the terrible systems that puts many Black people in poverty
    • Truly shows how Black people made the transition from the plantation to the penitentiary
  • Beginning and end are commentaries on Wynton’s feelings about our current world (in 2006)
    • Shows the issues that the world currently has along with the issues we thought we all escaped

Find Me:

  • Modern habanera (nice rhythmic pulse)
  • Gives a voice to those in extreme poverty and those who constantly experience the problems we are so fortunate to be able to not have to deal with
  • “Shattered people” “Tattered ragmen”
  • “Goes round and round and round”
    • Consistent and never ending cycle

Love and Broken Hearts:

    • 0:00-1:05
  • “I ain’t your bitch I aint your ho. And public ni****in’ has to go”
    • Goes against the misogynistic aspect of the entertainment industry
    • Goes against the public utilization of the n-word in music and life
  • “It’s time for the return of romance”
    • Sings about bringing back kindness and love
  • “It’s time to treat me gently now”
    • Last words
    • Summarizes the entire point


    • 0:00-1:20
  • Discusses the extremely busy and hard-nosed nature of capitalism
  • “Gimme this, gimme that”
    • Greed associated with capitalism that is needed for people to succeed
  • “Give me my fee, I got to be mean”
    • Shows the cut throat and hard-nosed approach needed to be successful
  • Pace of music says a lot
    • Extremely frantic music shows the lifestyle that capitalism creates
      • All work all the time, no breaks, exhausting
    • There are slower sections that represent the disappointment that capitalism inevitably brings to the population
      • “There’s never enough”

Where Y’all At:

    • 0:00-1:15
  • Wynton speaks over a track about the issues he sees in society
    • “Even the rap game started out critiquin’ now it’s all about killing and freakin’”
    • “Liberal students and equal rights pleaders, What’s goin’ on now that y’all are the leaders”
    • “And it all can’t be blamed on the party of Lincoln, The left and the right got the country sinkin’”
    • “Well, it ain’t about black and it ain’t about white, They’ll get together to make your pocket light”
    • “All you ‘it’s not me’ it’s always others, You watch the crimes, you close your shutters”
    • “Where Yall at”
      • Calling out to all groups, asking people to fight for the justice they believe in

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