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Marsalis laments apathy about cultural identity

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Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis says there's a quiet foe undermining America.

When it comes to the nation's cultural identity, "apathy is the enemy," he said Monday.

Marsalis said it's more important than ever to invest in arts education. "I'm increasingly worried about what I see around our country. . . . I've seen an entire generation of Americans who are culturally ignorant," he said during an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington.

He said arts funding amounts to only $1 per child per year, and he called on the federal government to double that.

Still, money isn't enough, he said, adding that more interest needs to be generated among parents and in the community.

The jazz trumpeter, who is the artistic director for Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City and winner of eight Grammy Awards, teaches music classes at high schools across the country while on tour.

He challenged fellow professional musicians on the local level to do the same.

Asked whether his approach to jazz has changed after Sept. 11, Marsalis said the art form of jazz originated from the blues, and as such, "we're always prepared for tragedy."