Posts Tagged ‘Duke Ellington’

Stuart Davis- Swing Landscape 1938


For a number of years Jazz had a tremendous influence on my thoughts about art and life.

-Stuart Davis


I wrote yesterday about how as an artist I am influenced by many things other than the paintings of other artists. I thought I’d share some paintings from artist Stuart Davis (1892-1964) whose work itself is considered a huge influence on the Pop Art movement of the 1960’s. I’ve been a fan of his for many years, particularly after seeing how his work evolved through his career from a Robert Henri trained Modernist whose early work echoed the influence of Van Gogh through a Picasso inspired Cubist period into his own style with its own vocabulary that was largely inspired by the Jazz of the time.

I also always keep something in mind he said when I am at work: Always remember that in a painting, color has a position, and a place, and it makes space. As a result, I try to make color a vital element in my paintings, sometimes more important than the actual subject of the painting.

But, this morning let’s just look at a few of Davis’ Jazz inspired paintings and take a look and a listen to the great Duke Ellington‘s Jazz classic Take the A Train. I get the feeling Stuart Davis might have painted a bit to this track.

I am not sure but the video here looks to be a Soundie, which were short, well produced music films that were played on video jukeboxes in bars and clubs the late 1940’s. They mainly featured popular black Jazz musicians, giving these often musicians, who really didn’t have an many outlets for their music as their white counterparts, an exciting venue that really spread the popularity of their music.

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GC Myers- In the RhythmI can’t really tell you how my show went last night.  I wish I could but my psychic powers have been on the weak side lately.  Actually, I am writing this on Friday because I most likely won’t be back in the studio in time to put up my Sunday morning music and it is such a regular habit for me that it bothers me when I miss a week.

But I will go out on a limb and guess that last night I saw a lot of folks that I haven’t talked to in a while, that everyone at the Kada Gallery treated me great and that it was, all in all, a wonderful night.  Fortunately, with only a rare exception or two, most of my shows have followed that simple script.

I will let you know if there was any deviation from the norm in the next day or two.

Today’s music is a jazz classic, Caravan, composed by the great Duke Ellington in 1936 and performed by a wide spectrum of jazz artists.  There are over 350 recorded versions of this song from Ellington’s band alone.  But the version I chose is from the late jazz pianist Kenny Drew , Jr.  I think it’s a really impressive version.

To accompany it, I chose a painting, In the Rhythm, from the Kada show that I think has a rhythm and feel that matches that of the song.  So give a listen and have a great Sunday.



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Subway TrainI heard a version of  Duke Ellington‘s signature tune, Take the “A” Train, the other day that caught me off guard.  The music was playing in the background and I caught the notes of a tune that made me stop and listen.  It was so familiar but it was so different.  Then I recognized it and realized it was someone other than the Duke and his orchestra.  It didn’t have the urbane and upbeat swing, that joyful feeling of breezing carefree along that marked the original.

No, it was a slow jaunt, a meandering and elegantly peaceful ride.  No horns.  Just a thumping upright bass and gorgeous piano work over some light drum work.  It was still the same tune but it was oh so different in feel.  It was from jazz great Ray Brown and his trio– Gene Harris on the piano.  Beautiful stuff.

GC Myers  Call To Waking smallIt reminded me of the times when I had taken the color from my work and work in tones of gray or sepia just to change things up a bit, to cleanse the palette so to speak.  The piece shown here on the left is an example.

I described it as being like hearing a song that you’ve heard a thousand times before then hearing a completely different take on it.  It’s the same tune, same notes and chords, but it just feels different, opens up something new inside.  This version by the Ray Brown Trio is exactly what I was describing.

It is the same but different.  Plus soaking in that bass thump is just a great way to kick off a quiet Sunday morning.  Have a great day…

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