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Ted Nash: The Goal Is Creativity

R.J. DeLuke By
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Doctors had pretty much given up on treatments and the man had few options. The meeting was arranged and, in a wheelchair, the would-be producer went to the lobby of New York City's Waldorf Astoria. "This Chinese man came down, sat with the patient and spoke to him for an hour," Nash says. "Touched him a little bit. Held his arm and did some things. At a certain point he got up to leave. The patient said 'Wait a minute. I'd love to work with you.' [The healer] said, 'We're done. We've done the work.' He left. Sure enough, this guy made a great recovery. he got his health back and his weight back. He still has some trouble, but he is still alive and it's been several years."

So the idea for the piece was to do with the chakra work. "I said fine. I didn't know much about the chakras. I studied a little bit about yoga ethics. I began at that point to research it. After I'd felt I did enough research to get a good idea of the difference between the chakras and how they are represented in many different ways, I actually met with a chakra healer and I had her do some work on me to get an idea of what that experience is like," recalls Nash. "She said, 'What do you feel you need work on?' I said communication. I was going through something ... It was a personal matter, but I couldn't communicate it. I couldn't talk about it and make clear what my intentions were; what I wanted. She said, 'Let's work on your fifth chakra, your throat chakra.' And she did. Later that day, I had this meeting and everything was very clear. I thought that was very interesting."

Nash spent a few months writing the music, but oddly lost touch with the man. For unknown reasons, he didn't participate further in the project. So Nash left it on the table for a couple years. Eventually, he returned to it, completed the work, then went about gathering a band to get the music documented. The result is the new, extraordinary album. Says the composer, "I'm happy with the band. It sounds great."



Where many large ensemble recordings storm out of the gate, the first number, "Earth (Muladhara)" is a stately ballad that has the feeling of an olden era. Nash shows great form on flute, soloing over slow, pulsing rhythms and contrapuntal horns. "Water merges into a soft jazz backdrop over which Charles Pillow blows a nice statement on alto sax, then it flows into a swinging thing that Hagans tears up on trumpet. "Fire" is an infectious riff, hard charging affair over non-standard, choppy, but right-on rhythms. Cohen's fiery clarinet stands out as it so often does. Martin Wind's bass solo is rock solid and funky. "Ether" is the most easy, flowing swing tune of the bunch. A delight. "Light" starts with Ulysses Owens brushwork on drums doing a tap dance with horns before it gets into a deep swing for Nash's solo (He only has two on the album) of the recording. "Cosmos" goes more into modern territory with changes in sonority, tempo and mood; rhythms both mainstream and modern.

It was recorded in one day, and the band was set in a standard big band formation, not with folks stuffed away in booths wearing headphones." It's the best way to do it. Everybody feels the music. You feel connected. the energy's all in the same room," the composer says. "You're talking about chakras and spiritual things. If you start putting people in different rooms, listening through headphones, the energy doesn't come through. It's a false coming together. The energy has to all vibrate within the room together to have a certain sound. You put up these mics to capture the room sound, which we used quite a bit on this. It was a good experience. To stand in front of the band rather than sit in a section, is always something I love to do."

Getting the music to fruition was special for Nash.

"It's always really exciting to get your music played by some really great musicians," he says. "I've been writing music for larger ensembles for several years. I've had some music recorded by Jazz at Lincoln Center. A long time ago with the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. The more you do this, the better you get at sort of being able to predict what it's going to sound like. Your ear gets trained. You understand that if you put these instruments together in this way, and in this register, you're going to get a certain sound. that helps you make decisions to arrange this music. But I'm always surprised how it sounds when I hear it the first time. The balances. Mainly, it's the warmth and the human quality that is brought to the music. Especially when you're working with computers and things and you play it back and it's these kinds of sound that never has any expression. These musicians bring breath to it. Expression. That's what's so beautiful. You feel it shaping into something."

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