Renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who got his start with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, is becoming a new kind of messenger: one for peace. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pinned a dove on Ma
Renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who got his start with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, is becoming a new kind of messenger: one for peace. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pinned a dove on Marsalis' lapel yesterday (March 20), shook his hand, and declared him the newest of the United Nations' cultural ambassadors. Marsalis, 39, becomes the first jazz musician appointed by Annan to serve as a "messenger of peace." Others include famed opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, Nobel Peace Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel, and retired basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Marsalis, winner of nine Grammys and the only jazz composer to win the Pulitzer, called music the perfect passport for a global ambassador. "Music is an international language. It's even a cliche to say it," he said with a chuckle. "It's having an impact on people -- it's impacting their culture, it's what they dance to, it's what they make love to, it's what they study to." He recalled the night when two trumpeters from the Ivory Coast tracked him down at home, saying they were visiting New York and wanted him to hear them play. They pulled out Ellington scores that he produced through the Jazz at Lincoln Center, where he is artistic director. "I started laughing. I didn't have any idea how they got this music," he said. "But music, when you get it in the world, it travels." As a U.N. "messenger of peace," Marsalis, who will not be paid but can choose his causes, said fighting racism and promoting education will be top priorities. Other messengers of peace include the former tennis player Vijay Amritraj of India, actor Michael Douglas, Italian writer Anna Cataldi, and French singer Enrico Macias. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.