Portrait In Seven Shades
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Jazz at Lincoln Center proudly announces the release of Portrait in Seven Shades, performed by the word-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and composed by JLCO reedman Ted Nash. Nash s suite consists of seven movements, each inspired by a master of modern art who worked in the century around the apex of jazz; Chagall, Dali, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Pollock and Van Gogh. The recording also features special guest musicians Nathalie Bonin (violin), Wycliffe Gordon (tuba), and Bill Schimmel (accordion). The writer Will Friedwald said Music is like painting in time, painting is like music in space. Portrait in Seven Shades illustrates this point masterfully.
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Still, this album is a must buy for fans of jazz, fans of modern art, and fans of good music in general.
The first-class musicians of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra ensure great, tight performances, and Ted Nash's writing and multilayered arrangements already have a solid reputation. The LCJO's voice, its sound and style, is recognizable as the listener views the depicted paintings of Monet, Dali, Matisse, Picasso, van Gogh, Chagall, and Pollock; then matches the feelings, the rhythms, and references as the music flows to each artist's development and culture. Matisse's bright sunshine of his landscapes are somehow perceived. In the Dali piece, arpeggio waves take us into Surrealism. Matisse's Dance is echoed with a playful jazz dance (how could it not!). Picasso's tranforming art from romantic Reds and Blues to cubist is portrayed, and we also hear that Spanish flamenco flavoring. More literarlly, a vocal is part of the impression of van Gogh's art and vision, and the shtetl village life of Chagall is made present by accordion, violin, and tuba. Pollock's art of a higher order within chaos, which came hand in hand with free jazz, closes the set through a ride of various jazz eras leading to a wild plethora of musical phrases and instruments. The entire conception is of Pulitzer (certainly Grammy) quality, and jazz lovers and artists both should bring this unusual album into their collection.
* As an artist myself, I am always curious how musical composers view paintings. In the classical world, Paul Klee was the major theme: Maxwell Davies' Five Klee Pictures; Sandor Varess's Hommage à Paul Klee; Jason Wright Wingate's Symphony No. 2 - Kleetüden; Variationen für Orchester nach Paul Klee (Variations for Orchestra after Paul Klee); and Takashi Kato's Klee. Also, there is Harry Somers' Picasso Suite and Paul Dessau's Guernica. Edvard Lieber wrote his De Kooning Preludes and Prelude to Jackson Pollock. Piet Mondrian, a jazz fanatic, is honored by Timothy Salter in his Mondrian Pictures. As for jazz, we have Paul Klee from the Swiss Jazz Orchestra and Seven Studies on Themes by Paul Klee by Gunther Schuller.