Transformation is a multi-disciplinary work from saxophonist/composer Ted Nash, and iconic actress Glenn Close, exploring the multi-faceted and abstract theme of transformation. The works included examine the theme from both universal and individual conceptions. Music and literature at its best is clearly transformative for anyone experiencing it. Transformation is by essence, the highest and most illuminating expression of change. Nash embraced the project by creating a colorful and illustrative collection of pieces, embracing Close's curated literary selections recited by the fiercely talented cast of Wayne Brady, Amy Irving, Mathew Stevenson and Nash's son, Eli Nash. In doing so, he has brilliantly utilized the full range of sounds and full spectrum of colors of his collection of voices from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Close's attraction and motivation to delve into the idea of transformation grew from her observation of the collective human psyche of current times. She explains, "I am acutely aware of the amount of violence, cynicism, stress and anxiety being pumped into our collective nervous systems. We are so fractured and in need of healing. I want to create an experience from which people are comforted, but also inspired, to discover their shared humanity."
The opening two connected pieces, "Creation Parts 1 and 2," take on transformation at the very beginning of the creation of matter and our world. Close chose "Tales From Ovid," by Ted Hughes to illuminate the conception, recited by both Close and Brady. Nash's musical framework for the piece is accented beautifully by alto saxophonist Sherman Irby, and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. "One Among Many" shifts the focus from the primordial, to the individual, telling the story of Judith Clark's transformation from prison life to freedom in New York City. Amy Irving's recitation brings this stirring tale to an emotive clarity. Wayne Brady recites his own text on "A Piece By the Angriest Black Man in America (or How I Learned to Forgive Myself for Being a Black Man in America." Beginning with a finger snapping rhythm, Brady tells his very personal experience as a black man in modern America, with his well known humorous and whimsical wit and intelligence.
"Dear Dad/Letter," and "Dear Dad/Response" is a narration of the coming out letter for Nash's transgender son, Eli, and a father's loving response of love and support. Recited with poise and humor by Eli himself, the two pieces are beautifully honest and demonstrative of the very best of the human spirit. Nash delivers a father's loving response with his composition, but more importantly, with playing a response instrumentally on soprano saxophone that is as graphic and understandable a narrative as any spoken word performance could ever be. His son's personal transformation in a very powerful way illuminates the stated inspiration for all of the works skillfully created and performed in this collection. Nash's very colorful and visual compositions are reason enough to take on Transformation as a listener. His well crafted orchestral jazz is highlighted by the fine individual work of JALC members Tatum Greenblatt, Obed Calvaire, Victor Goines, Carlos Henriquez and the aforementioned Nimmer, Irby and Marsalis. Like so many recordings arising out of this period of history surrounding the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, the recording is offered as an expression of transforming forms of hardship and despair into hope and light.
Creation, Part I; Creation, Part II; Dear Dad/Letter; Dear Dad/Response; Prelude for
Memnon; One Among Many; Rising Out of Hatred; A Piece by the Angriest Black Man in
America; Forgiveness; Wisdom of the Humanities; Reaching the Tropopause.