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Ted Nash: Portrait in Seven Shades (2010)

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Ted Nash: Portrait in Seven Shades No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) is often derided as a bastion of conservatism, although it's not clear what is conservative about an epic like trumpeter Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
b.1961
trumpet
' Congo Square (Blue Note, 2007), with its volleys of Ghanaian percussion and ensemble-singing in the Ga and Fante dialects. For that matter, the JLCO accommodates boundary-pushing musicians like Ted Nash, who holds a multi-woodwinds chair while still doing offbeat work with the likes of bassist Ben Allison
Ben Allison
Ben Allison
b.1966
bass, acoustic
and pianist Frank Kimbrough
Frank Kimbrough
Frank Kimbrough
b.1956
piano
—not to mention his own groups, including Odeon and Still Evolved.

Portrait in Seven Shades is Nash's entry as an JLCO resident composer and the focus here is avowedly European (a stark contrast with Congo Square's Africa via New Orleans). Each of the seven movements takes inspiration not only from a particular painter, but also from a set of specific canvases in that artist's oeuvre, as explained in the CD booklet. The orchestration points to Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
and Gil Evans
Gil Evans
Gil Evans
1912 - 1988
composer/conductor
in roughly equal measure, although hard-bitten blues vocabulary plays an overt role, most notably in Dan Nimmer's swinging piano trio setup on "Matisse." Perhaps most striking is the unsettled 13/8 meter and smeary high-register brass of "Dali," which apportions solo space between trumpeter Marcus Printup
Marcus Printup
Marcus Printup
b.1967
trumpet
, drummer Ali Jackson and Nash on alto saxophone.

JLCO head and star trumpeter Wynton Marsalis follows trombonist Vincent Gardner
Vincent Gardner
Vincent Gardner
b.1972
trombone
with a fiery statement on the multi-sectioned, cubist-inspired "Picasso." Gardner returns for a romantic, Johnny Hartman
Johnny Hartman
Johnny Hartman
1923 - 1983
vocalist
-esque vocal feature—something altogether new in Nash's writing—on the ballad "Van Gogh," again offset by Marsalis as the featured horn. Later, jittery swing and tumbling swirls of eighth notes set the stage for the closing "Pollock." Only "Chagall," with accordionist Bill Schimmel, violinist Nathalie Bonin and tubaist Wycliffe Gordon
Wycliffe Gordon
Wycliffe Gordon
b.1967
trombone
articulating Jewish/Eastern European themes, seems a bit strained and obvious in trying to connect sound and subject matter. The other movements leave more to the imagination. Listeners are free to read Nash's lucid explanations in the notes or simply let the music connect the dots.


Track Listing: Monet; Dali; Matisse; Picasso; Van Gogh; Chagall; Pollock.

Personnel: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Record Label: The Orchard

Style: Modern Jazz


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