Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Line

It happened in an early morning drawing class. During a particular pose, the artist looked intensely at the model, took a deep breath and with calm awareness drew a line on the paper. He was surprised to find it was perfectly drawn. That had never happened before as he was a novice at drawing.

He smiled as those around him gathered to admire this perfect line. The teacher stopped teaching the class to study the line and called the others students over to show it to them. As word spread, teachers and students from other classrooms gathered around to admire it also. All seemed to agree that they had never seen a line done with such poise.

Those studying the line suddenly felt happier; more alive. Worries disappeared; confidence was improved; anxieties were relieved while glass jaws, rope burns, paper cuts, blackheads, spring fever, homesickness, halitosis, warts, the heebie-jeebies, shyness, unexplained weeping, and xacto-knife wounds were all mysteriously cured.

As word of the line passed from student to student, then from artist to artist, it became the number one discussion in the art scene and at art parties. Photos of the line were scanned, faxed, emailed, made into posters and appeared on billboards. It was featured on the six o’clock news. Famous artists soon began to refer to the line as “The Line”.

Novelists incorporated The Line into their books. A famous author penned a pivotal work titled “The Perfect Line” which went on to become a bestselling novel. The novel was adapted to a one act play which was then made into a Broadway musical which gave way to a major opera called “La Line”. This made the Italians very happy.

It was soon found that The Line enabled people to sleep peacefully through the night (without snoring), charm cobras, leap buildings in a single bound, acquire untold wealth and speak fluent Swahili. They also gained the ability to compose complex jazz melodies while walking in the park.

The Line went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize, a Kennedy Center Honor, got a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and received an Oscar for best supporting actress. Endangered species began to reproduce rapidly; rescuing them from extinction. The lamb lay next to the lion and leprechauns were seen riding on unicorns. The sun always shined; the plants were always watered; the dog was always walked; the hole is the ozone was closed.

All creatures on the earth sang along to the Music of the Spheres; Gabriel blew his horn and the Sirens chanted hallelujah! Energy became unlimited and non-polluting; the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse got off their horses to study The Line…and….
Packing up his art supplies after the class the student remarked to himself, “I sure wish I was better at this art stuff…”

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Roy Hargrove Quintet at the Kennedy Center

Caught the uber-coolster Roy Hargrove last Saturday. This cat does the best shows with his dancing jive shit he does when not blowing his horn. Along with his trumpet, he broke into a bit of singing ala Chet Baker. All in all, an awesome show.

With Justin Robinson - Alto, Sullivan Fortner - Piano, Ameen Saleem - Bass and Montez Coleman - Drums, two of which show up in this video

From the Kennedy Center site:
Roy Hargrove, trumpeter, winner of the 1995 Down Beat readers’ poll and called by critics “the hottest trumpet player in the world,” was born in 1969 in Waco, Texas. His rise to the first rank of trumpeter/bandleaders in jazz began at age nine, when he started cornet study with Dean Hill. At 13 he heard saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman at a junior high school assembly. Wynton Marsalis invited Hargrove to sit in with his band four years later. Hargrove was soon playing with such artists as Carl Allen, Ricky Ford, Bobby Watson, and with the group Superblue. He attended Berklee School of Music, Boston and, at the age of 20, released his first album Diamond in the Rough (BMG/Jive/Novus, 1990). Hargrove’s career continued to flourish, with three additional recordings as bandleader: Public Eye (1991), The Vibe (1992), and Of Kindred Souls (1993), all for Novus. He also appeared on the album Live in Concert (Jive/Novus 1991) with the group Jazz Futures, featuring several other young up-and-comers such as Antonio Hart, Mark Whitfield, Tim Warfield, and Christian McBride. Three additional Hargrove recordings followed: With the Tenors of Our Time (Verve, 1994), Approaching Standards (BMG/Jive/Novus, 1994), and Family (Verve, 1995). Wynton Marsalis joined Hargrove for Family in a song titled “Nostalgia.” With the Tenors of Our Time brought Griffin the extraordinary opportunity to record separate tracks with five great tenors saxophonists: Johnny Griffin, Joe Henderson, Branford Marsalis, Joshua Redman, and Stanley Turrentine. In addition to his recordings as bandleader, Hargrove has recorded as a sideman with notables Jackie McLean, Frank Morgan, James Clay, Sonny Rollins, and with the group Jazz Futures. For several years, Hargrove’s own group included Antonio Hart. In 1996, Cuban pianist “Chucho” Valdes invited Hargrove to Cuba for the annual Havana Jazz Festival. Hargrove recorded Habana (Verve, 1997), featuring American, Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians (Valdes, Gary Bartz, Russell Malone, Horacio Hernandez, David Sanchez), and several of them joined Roy Hargrove’s Crisol to tour jazz festivals. Roy Hargrove performed at the Kennedy Center in 1998 as part of Billy Taylor’s Jazz series.

…It was Mr. Hargrove who dominated the set with a series of solos bursting with ideas. Simply, he’s creative…”(Peter Watrous, The New York Times)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Fine Line Between Cryptozoological Research and Wasted Time

The Fine Line Between Cryptozoological Research and Wasted Time ~ Acrylic on watercolor paper - 18 x 22 inches

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Larry Willis at Twins Jazz

Always think it's kind of cool to bop down to U St and catch some great jazz. This time is was Larry Willis on piano on New Years day with Steve Novosel on bass and drummer Billy Williams.

Pianist Larry Willis has had an important and distinguished 40-year career in jazz. Since making his recording debut on Jackie McLean’s landmark 1965 album “Right Now!,” the New York-born Willis has played everything from free jazz to fusion to rock while performing as a valued sideman with such jazz titans as Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Cannonball Adderley, Art Blakey and Woody Shaw.

Larry was born in 1942 in Manhattan’s Harlem. Surprisingly, he entered music not as a pianist but as a voice major, first at New York’s High School of Music and Art for gifted students, then at the Manhattan School of Music. His senior year in high school, at 17, he had his first recording date, a classical gig with the Music and Arts Choral Ensemble singing a Copland opera conducted by no less then Leonard Bernstein.

But something even more important than that happened to Larry at the beginning of that senior year. He started playing the piano no lessons, no teacher, just figuring it out by himself. By the end of the winter, he was playing his first professional gigs in a jazz trio with two of his classmates, Al Foster on drums and Eddie Gomez on bass. No one knew it then, but that little trio was probably the most distinguished high school jazz group in the country.

Soon after entering the Manhattan School of Music, Larry switched from voice to music theory. For one, he was running head-on into the all-too-evident barriers facing black musicians in the classical world.

On the positive side, Larry’s interest in jazz was turning into passion. A fellow student, Hugh Masakela, heard him jamming with Al Foster. Hugh was so impressed that he hooked Larry up with John Mehegan, the legendary New York jazz piano teacher. Those were Larry’s first-ever lessons. By the end of that year at the Manhattan School, at age 19, Larry was playing regularly with Jackie McLean, the great alto saxophone innovator.

This is a remarkable entry into jazz: a kid of 17 decides to play the piano for the first time; four months later, he’s playing gigs with a soon-to-be world class trio. A year and a half after that, he’s making jazz history with the next giant of the alto after Bird. A year after Larry’s graduation in 1965, Jackie gave him his first recording date “Right Now,” on Blue Note and on that first date recorded the first two pieces in a continuing stream of Willis compositions.

Since then, Larry has played on more than 300 records. He’s played or recorded with almost every great jazz musician of the modern era, stars like Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, Hugh Masakela, Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Stan Getz, Art Blakey, Art Taylor, Clifford Jordan, Carmen McRae, and Shirley Horn. Recent CDs include a Larry Willis Quintet and four Larry Willis Trio recordings plus two solo sessions (labels are Audioquest, Steeplechase, Evidence and Mapleshade).

Larry’s extraordinary versatility as a pianist ranges from rock and pop”he spent 7 years as keyboardist for Blood, Sweat and Tears to African, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music. He’s one of the only non-Hispanic players who ever impressed Mario Bauza as a Latin pianist.

Another facet of Larry’s genius is his composing and arranging for orchestras and big bands. He’s always had a very special gift for arranging strings, strings that form a gorgeous, open framework for jazz improvisation. His first major string works were symphonic arrangements for a Brooklyn Symphony concert with the Fort Apache Band in 1994. Since then he’s done gem-like string quartet and quintet arrangements for three Mapleshade jazz CDs: John Hicks “Trio Plus Strings,” Sunny Sumter’s “Sunny,” and Monica Worth’s “Never Let Me Go.” Recently, he wrote larger scale arrangements for albums by Roy Hargrove, Vanessa Rubin and Joe Ford, among others. Larry composed an orchestral suite in four movements for the Florida Southern College Symphony Orchestra and then performed it in concert. He was also featured soloist with an Italian chamber orchestra, performing his own compositions.

Larry Willis is a three-time Grammy nominee with Fort Apache as well as pianist on two of their New York Jazz Critics Award-winning CDs. He’s was also on Roy Hargrove’s Grammy-winning “Crisol Band” CD and toured for three years with Roy. Currently, he is touring actively with his own Trio and Quintet as well as with Fort Apache from time to time.

Larry Willis released in 2007 his tribute to his mentor Jackie Mclean “Blue Fable,” on the HighNote label. With his high school buddy Eddie Gomez on bass, his quintet plays a set of post-bop standards and some original compositions, including an exuberant version of Thelonious Monk's “Rhythm-A-Ning,” an introspective performance of Miles Davis's “Nardis,” Jackie McLeans’s “Blue Fable,” (title cut) and his own “Prayer for New Orleans.”

His most recent release is “The Offering.” again on HighNote. This record is reviewed here at all about jazz by John Barron. - AllAboutJazz

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Excerpt from a landscape of the worst painting ever painted - An Art Trip Painting

Excerpts from a landscape of the worst painting ever painted ~ 22 x 30 inches - Acrylic on watercolor paper

Billy Taylor - RIJ

Oh man, another jazz legend dead. I remember this cat growing up in New York with his Jazzmobile giving concerts in the area and in high schools. I do think he had something to do with the jazz revival in DC because of his association with the Kennedy Center. Rest in Jazz brother...

"Billy Taylor, one of the most versatile, influential and revered figures of the jazz world, who left his mark as a pianist, composer, educator and broadcaster and made Washington's Kennedy Center one of the nation's premier concert venues for jazz, died Dec. 28 at a hospital in New York. He was 89 and had a heart attack."

"Dr. Taylor, who grew up in the District and derived his early musical education from local teachers and from jazz shows at the Howard Theater, had a career that spanned nearly 70 years. He collaborated with almost every significant performer in jazz, from Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker to Wynton Marsalis, but he had an even rarer gift for explaining his music and drawing people to it."

From the Washington Post

Monday, January 3, 2011

Quantum comedy according to your mother

Quantum comedy according to your mother ~20 x 30 inches - Acrylic on watercolor paper