Portrait in Seven Shades

Writer and music critic Will Friedwald once said, “Music is like painting in time, painting is like music in space.”

I’ve always been fascinated with the intersection between art and music. The more that I learn about art, the more I can see the lyrics, rhythmic structure and movement on a canvas. And the more I listen to really great, really rich music, which does not include auto-tune, the more I can see the sounds of the music with my own eyes.

So, when I received a copy of TED NASH’S brilliant Jazz at Lincoln Center album for Christmas, I was intrigued. I had vaguely heard about the album last year and I must have mentioned it to my friends because it ended up under my Christmas tree.

PORTRAIT IN SEVEN SHADES was composed by saxophonist TED NASH in distinct movements inspired by seven 20th century masters of modern art — Chagall, Dali, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Pollock and Van Gogh.

Marc Chagall’s I and The Village

Chagall’s paintings are very musical and they incorporate a lot of fantasy–violinists float in the air, animals dance. His works deal with family and social gatherings, and you get a strong sense of his theatrical nature, so for the sixth movement I wanted to capture the sense of neighborhood.”

Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory

Dali’s paintings allude to violence, sexuality, and secrets living in one’s subconscious. By embracing the effects of his paintings, I have found sounds and approaches to harmony that are familiar on their own, but take on an unsettling effect with the particular way they are combined.”

Henri Matisse’s Dance

“There is a quirkiness in his works, and instead of becoming more and more sophisticated, Matisse became more and more simple. Matisse is somebody who didn’t conform, very much like pianist Thelonious Monk. In fact, Monk’s rhythmic quirkiness was an influence on this movement.”

Claude Monet’s Water Lilies

“I feel that Monet embellished reality by diffusing it, using colors and textures to create fantasy. When you stand up close to this sprawling canvas you lose sight of reality; instead you see strokes, gestures, and textures.”

Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoisselle d’Avignon

“I think of Pablo Picasso as sort of the Miles Davis of the art world. He was responsible for the development of important movements like analytical and synthetic cubism, and his work became more and more expressive as he got older. And Picasso loved women.”

Jackson Pollock’s White Light

“With Pollock, the final movement, I wanted to create a musical canvas full of paint splatters–musical phrases being loosely tossed about.”

Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night

Full of thick strokes and rich colors, van Gogh’s paintings expressed his passions and pathos. The reality he captures is one we want to experience, so I used words to tell van Gogh’s story.”

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