The suite premiered at the venue in 2007, vividly evoking the visual styles of iconic painters Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, Chagall, Dali, and Pollock. Nash will be joined by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Featuring lighting design and projections of the artwork behind the performers, the concert will be a multi-media event.
The concert coincides with the release of Portrait in Seven Shades, in stores and available at online retailers on February 2. The album, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra's first CD of original music on its own label in nearly four years, is the first title released by Jazz at Lincoln Center, under a distribution agreement with The Orchard. Special guests on the recording include Nathalie Bonin (violin), Wycliffe Gordon (tuba), and Bill Schimmel (accordion).
"Portrait in Seven Shades tells a story about seven painters through music," Nash explains. "Like painters, musicians talk of colors, layers and composition. Several terms are used to describe styles in both fields: impressionistic, abstract, pop, and of course, 'the blues.'"
"Musicians and painters often experience the same struggles, successes, and self-doubts when creating and, later, sharing their creations," Nash continues. "When artists embrace their own truths, working on art can be an opportunity to discover something new from within. It may also allow us, the audience, to get to know something in ourselves."
The concept for Portrait in Seven Shades came about when Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis asked Nash to compose a thematic long-form piece for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Nash decided to dedicate each movement to a different painter.
Nash selected artists who lived within the last century, noting that the period "spans the end of Impressionism through Abstract Expressionism of the 1960s. Although it doesn't correlate exactly with the existence of jazz music (around the beginning of the 1900s to present), the time frame is similar. During these periods, each art form went through many important transformations."
Nash narrowed down his choice of artists to seven painters that inspired him. "There are so many artists I have truly admired, whose works have had some kind of effect on me," he says, "like C_zanne, Degas, Gauguin, Rauschenberg, Diebenkorn, and de Kooning. But there were a few choices that were obvious to me: Picasso, Van Gogh, and Monet. I think of 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 daring and expressive as he got older. Miles, similarly, helped give birth to movements like bebop and modal, and his music also became more daring with the development of fusion."
The final list of artists would help heighten contrasts between movements, according to Nash. "I have also chosen recognizable artists with recognizable work because I believe it will heighten a viewer's perspective: I want the listener to hear music that expresses images with which they are already familiar. I believe this will lead to a greater experience and hopefully, as a result of hearing this music, one will see these paintings in a new, fresh way."
Check out the sights and sounds of Portrait in Seven Shades February 4, 5 and 6. For tickets and more information, please visit jalc.org.