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Take Five With Barb Januszkiewicz

Take Five With Barb Januszkiewicz
 Barb Januszkiewicz By

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Meet Barb Januszkiewicz:

I am a painter who uses music in my work. I love jazz because it adds color to everything. I was first exposed to jazz by dad. I met Dave Liebman, and that everything changed for me because he showed me how we could mix jazz and art together—real fusion. He helped me look outside my art studio and to see jazz as part of my art. Jazz can be a blank canvas full of possibilities.

Jazz vision is the fusion of music and art, a real paradox of same—yet different. Here we play in exchanges, like the hardness of the key of C# major and the softness of Db major. Capturing, reflecting, and improvising, jazz vision for me is seeing my art in musical terms.



Teachers and/or influences?

I like to think Marcel Duchamp, Wassily Kandinsky, Man Ray, John Cage, and Bill Viola have all been my teachers, helping me learn to paint from music. I believe both Matthew Shipp and Dave Liebman—both with whom I have worked—channel bits of Erik Satie, Charles Ives, Thelonious Monk, Frederic Chopin, and even Steve Lacy. My influences are a colorful group.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

As an artist I want to reintroduce the concept of jazz modernism from the mid-20th century. Similar to the collaborations of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Matisse, and Joyce. The fusion of art with jazz!

Your sound and approach to music:

The experimentation in jazz reflects art, culture, and even the times we live in.

I take my influences from music and strive to capture that sound frozen in my paintings. I find it intriguing that there is a vocabulary of words that applies to both music and visual art. Terms like movement, patterns, perspectives, and layering are a few.

Your teaching approach:

Being open to new ideas, new opportunities, and new challenges will keep your work fresh. As we grow up we slowly play less with our imagination and dreams. We expect the youth to be more adventurous and as we mature we take less risks. Like in jazz the best is when you take risk. So I say, "You Don't Know What You Don't Know." A genfluxer can nuke nostalgia, risk change, taste tomorrow's innovations. The art here is to be playful and have an experimental attitude.

Your dream band:

I would have liked to play with Thelonious Monk.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

Midnight torsion, my creative hour. I sometimes become lost in my own labyrinth maze of misdirection.

Favorite venue:

A blank canvas. Jazz can be a blank canvas full of possibilities.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Hearing with your eyes and seeing with your ears is a result of fusion of art with music. It's more then experimentation with approaches, materials, and techniques. I enjoy the moments of expressing myself with the true freedom in placing paint on paper when I bring music into the mix. A perfect match.

Did you know...

I played jazz trumpet in high school. Eric Watson was also in my school band. We talked for hours about who we dig in the musical world from B.B. King and the Who, to Louis Armstrong. Loved all music.

CDs you are listening to now:

Matthew Shipp, almost everyday. What can I say? The man is a genius.

Desert Island picks:

Jack White, Blunderbuss (Columbia);

Miles Davis,Kind of Blue (Columbia);

Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced (MCA);

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Ella and Louis (Verve).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

We need more dialogue between different disciplines of art and reinforcement of music appreciation to the world. We need to offer more engagement and artistic freedom. I would like to see more of a juxtaposition of talents in both art and music. Real fusion can reach across preconceived borders and bring life-altering inspiration to others.

In a perfect world we could have to ability to explore and create new artistic ideals through innovative fusion jazz and art projects which salute and promote individual creative vision for the present and the future. We could celebrate this with exhibits and the experience of jazz through research, exhibition, education, and performance.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Open minds, open hearts, and harmonic friendships.

What is in the near future?


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