Wynton Marsalis’ thesis, the one he’s still never really compromised in any major way, did away with the kinds of airy, mystical concepts that tend to get thrown around when trying to define what jazz is or isn’t (he, unlike some of his peers, accepts the term as useful). For him, jazz’s beauty and value was bound up in its codes, in its rigor and ambition: the things that were translatable across generations or demographics.

On Black Codes, it seems, he found that balance, using and learning from his musical and other memories without living them and, almost without really trying to, sketching an outline for dozens of sophisticated, ambitious, high-minded post-bop albums to come. For those who followed him, it was evidence of aspirational collaboration, vision and fluency; impossibly deep knowledge blended with youthful fire.