I'm a semi-professional trumpet player myself. My take on Wynton's playing is that, first and foremost, it's technically amazing. I know people have debated this time over, myslef included and I've changed my mind a number of times about it. Wynton gets stuck between a rock and a hard place, because the classical snobs tell him he doesn't have the right style to tackle that material, yet the jazzers say that he's too deliberate and technical on that front too. He can't win, despite being one of the best musicians around.
I came to Wynton's playing from the classical/straight stuff initially. His Carnaval album with the Eastman Wind Ensemble, where he plays all the great cornet solos is a masterpiece of playing, both in terms of technique and style. Hearing that album helped inspire me to play the trumpet. After that, I bought his Haydn and Hummel trumpet concertos, which are great too - so full of life and bravura. They are played in an up to date way on modern instruments and sound just great. Only a boring toff would tell you otherwise. But then there's the Bach Brandenburg No.2 and various other Baroque era pieces that he plays brilliantly yet again, but with that exact same modern slant, with not much regard for authenticity. Given that the sound of the instruments and interpretation in them days would have been wildy different, I can understand people not enjoying that. I personally don't mind as I'm not a great fan of the baroque era anyway.
Another example, which might draw criticism from me is his interpretations of certain chamber works for piano and trumpet, such as the Hindemith Sonata. Flawless and declamatory playing once again, but for such a piece as this, he really does miss the sombre darkness and seriousness of this work. It becomes a trumpet spectacular again, which is just not right (and probably how most of the detractors of his baroque interpretations feel too.).
His jazz stuff is as broad as deep and pays homage to most of the bygone eras, with its own original slant. I've seen him live with his septet in the 90s and I can vouch that his technique and endurance on the trumpet is verging on superhuman! What a fine player, who's had the courage to tackle such a range of music with such dedication and virtuosity. I can do nothing but applaud the man and what he stands for. He certainly inspired me over the years to make a good racket out of a bent piece of metal stuck to my face!
great write up, i appreciate the comments. Its nice to hear an honest opinion, most people end up taking a shout at him for one reason or another. He is a very controversial figure in the contemporary jazz scene. I have read so may reviews about his albums, style and technique where the reviewer is obviously not a fan. I was shocked at some of the things Miles Davis and Jan Garbarek said about him. It made me doubt some his jazz in particular. I remember thinking that maybe they had a point, then id go back home and listen to "live at the village vangaurd" and id say to myself - "What they hell are they taking about, this stuff is great".
I have been trying to find a studio version of the song "sparks" - maybe you can help with that. ¬