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11

Ted Nash: The Goal Is Creativity

R.J. DeLuke By
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Jazz at Lincoln Center has been, and continues to be, one of the important projects for Nash. It's brought his playing and writing to the forefront, but he has also learned a tremendous amount. "When I joined the band 15 years ago, we really delved into Duke Ellington's music. I didn't realize how rich it was, and diverse. He really is our greatest classical composer, in a sense," says Nash."That association with Jazz at Lincoln Center has given me a lot of opportunities to contribute to the orchestra and help form its direction. I think it's been a wonderful thing. Also, we have steady enough work that—we're not getting rich, but we can certainly pay our bills and do what we need to do. Then there are some pockets of time when I can focus on booking some other things. It's a nice situation. I don't know how long it will keep going, in terms of my involvement with it. But it's at the point right now where I really love what's going on with Jazz at Lincoln Center."

He adds, "Some people are under the impression that it's a repertory band and it's not. The majority of what we play is new music. The majority of the events we do at Jazz at Lincoln Center are educational. I think the majority of what Jazz at Lincoln Center does is educational. That's important."

He continues to do gigs with other projects and smaller bands, depending on his availability. "I love playing with other musicians and playing their music. So whenever I can do that, with people I really respect, I do that." He also recently returned from Brazil where the Orchestra Jazz Sinfonica played several pieces of his compositions orchestrated for the 80-piece group. "That's a beautiful sound too. I think I want to do more writing for orchestra."

Then there's the screenplay. Amid everything, Nash found time to take an eight-month course on screenplay writing. He had a specific project in mind.

"My mother passed a way a few years ago and she was always wanting to write a book about our experiences. When I was a child, my parents, both civil rights activists, became very close friends with a black militant leader, who was a cousin of Malcolm X, named Hakim Jamal." Jamal wrote "From the Dead Level," a memoir of his life and memories of Malcolm X. He was assassinated in 1973.

"His family and our family became great friends. We went on vacations together. It become a very unusual relationship" that ended with the assassination. "She wanted to tell the story and never did. I'm writing it as a screenplay. I have a first draft I'm rewriting now. That's something I'm really excited about. I haven't talked about it much on the outside. It's a project I'm excited about and involved in. Part of my being creative, I feel. It's part of everything that I'm doing."

But most of the creativity Nash has in abundance is directed to jazz music. He has no problem with it, and dismisses the occasional small-scale effort to downplay using that genre label.

"I don't understand what the problem is. We know what jazz is. Jazz is a very open and encompassing word for me. It means a lot of different things for me. It doesn't necessarily mean it has to go 'ching chinga-ching chinga-ching.' [Imitates a straight ahead jazz ride cymbal] And it doesn't mean it has to be a certain instrumentation or based on anything. It has blues in it and feeling. It has expression and improvisation. Those things are very important to me."

Jazz is important to him, and more and more the reverse is true.


Selected Discography

Ted Nash Big Band, Chakra, (Plastic Sax Records, 2013)
Ted Nash, The Creep, (Plastic Sax Records, 2012)
Ted Nash, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Portrait in Seven Shades (The Orchard, 2010)
Ted Nash, The Mancini Project (Palmetto Records, 2008)
Ted Nash & Still Evolved, In the Loop (Palmetto Records, 2006)
Ted Nash & Odeon, La Espada De La Noche (Palmetto Records, 2005)
Ted Nash, Still Evolved (Palmetto Records, 2003)
Ted Nash, Sidewalk Meeting, (Arabesque, 2001)
Ted Nash, Rhyme and Reason, (Arabesque, 1999)

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