Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Visualizing" Jazz

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Jazz it seems is constantly reinventing itself primarily through amalgamation.

Jazz blends well, in part, because as the late pianist Bill Evans asserted, Jazz is not so much a music per se as it is a process for making music.

If you do certain things musically - primarily improvise on a structure, form or motif employing a syncopated rhythmic pattern - then you create Jazz.

Whatever the source of the music - other musical styles; music from another culture; these use of different instrumentation, et al. - the process of making Jazz can incorporate anything and everything

Applying Jazz to visual mediums is a longstanding custom dating back to filming Jazz bands in action to create short subject movie trailers, or using the music in full scale theatrical films or as a soundtrack for a radio and/or television series, or as the audio track for a documentary.

Listening to Jazz while viewing paintings, sculpture, photography and other graphic media has always been a fun way for me to experience the music in a different mode.

Jazz with graphics is just another form of the music’s adaptability and malleability; it seems to go well with other artistic and cultural elements.

Slide presentations comprised of applying cover art illustrations from an artist’s LP’s or CD’s in combination with photographs of the musician, using various filters with  computer generated graphics and wildlife photography are just three examples that illustrate platforms that I have used to develop videos with Jazz soundtracks.

My usual purpose in generating these videos is to have their soundtracks serve as actual examples of the music under discussion in the Jazz style or Jazz musician being profiled in each blog feature.

Whatever the textual purpose or the visual context, the excitement that listening to Jazz generates never fails to show itself especially when it is placed in an orchestral context [another amalgamation] such as a Jazz soloist featured with The Metropole Orchestra of Holland [just one example]. The Metropole Orkest has the added feature of a large string section that has been specifically trained and rehearsed to perform Jazz phrasing.

With the magnificent Metropole Orchestra as a constant in each of the following videos, why not sit back, turn up the volume control on your speakers or headset and enjoy these videos, each of which uses visual elements set to Jazz..

The first video features trumpeter Randy Brecker performing his original composition Tokyo Freddie with the orchestra as set to cover art and photographs of Randy and his music. Vince Mendoza conducts the orchestra.

The second video is set to computer-generated, HD graphics and features Jeff Beal [trumpet], Harvey Wainapel [soprano saxophone] performing pianist Kenny Barron's Anywhere with the orchestra conducted by Jim McNeely. The arrangement is by Jeff Beal. As you may be aware, Jeff is also the composer of the music to the Netflix produced House of Cards television series.

The third video offers a series of gorgeous, wild animal photographs as set to a version of another Kenny Barron tune - Wildlife - with pianist Rob van Kreeveld and the orchestra in performance, Lex Jasper conducting. The arrangement is by J. Reinders.

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