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September 26, 2010, 2:30 PM

Jazz Improvisation and the Visual Impulse

Music Performance & Discussion
Participants: Rebecca Allan, Vicky Barranguet, Jane Ira Bloom, Gustavo Casenave, Marty Ehrlich

The world of imagery provides a provocative stimulus for many jazz musicians, and composers and musicians often gravitate towards specific imagery when they look for a visual reflection of their music. Many visual artists work while listening to music, and have very specific preferences about the music that they listen to, frequently referencing the state of mind that music engenders when they work. What is the nature of this mental link between sound and sight in the creative process of artists and musicians? What is it about the improvisational strategy in painting and playing that connects these two disciplines? Two renowned artists, Rebecca Allan and Vicki Barranquet, and three world-class improvisors, multi-instrumentalist Marty Ehrlich, Uruguayan pianist Gustavo Casenave, and saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom, come together to talk about and experiment with the real-time connection between visual and musical improvisation. A live demonstration of music-inspired action painting will take place during the event.

Rebecca Allan is a New York-based painter whose work examines the landscape, the figure, and music. Rivers and watershed landscapes of the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, Virginia, and the Lake District of England have been primary sites of investigation for the past decade. Her most recent solo exhibition was at Upfront Gallery in Penrith, Cumbria, UK. She has been a fellow at the Centrum Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Dorland Mountain Art Colony in California. A teacher, lecturer, and museum educator for more than 25 years, Allan has taught painting, drawing, and art history at Purchase College (State University of New York), New York Botanical Garden, Cornish College of the Arts, Gage Academy of Art, Allegheny College, Heritage Institute at Antioch University, Seattle Art Museum, and Frye Art Museum. She is currently the Head of Education at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture.

Vicky Barranguet is one of the top artists from the new generation of Uruguayan painters. With exhibitions and private collections in Europe, Asia, North, Central and South America, her spontaneous and daring works have led to the creation of an open minded approach, in which she combines painting with other art forms. In 2005 she created "Painting Music," a live painting and music show, which has since toured in Argentina, Uruguay, and across the USA. In 2006, she created "Vicky Barranguet Artwear," a line of hand painted dresses, and presented them at Uruguay's Fashion Week in collaboration with several designers. She is currently the featured artist for Jodi Arnold's 2010 collection in New York City. Art commissions included works for Nike, Adidas, Longchamp, the University of California, Sadesa, and Grimoldi.

Jane Ira Bloom is a soprano saxophonist, composer, and a pioneer in the use of live electronics and movement in jazz. She is the winner of the 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship in music composition, the 2007 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award for lifetime service to jazz, the Jazz Journalists Association Award and the Downbeat International Critics Poll for soprano saxophone, and the Charlie Parker Fellowship for jazz innovation. Bloom was the first musician commissioned by the NASA Art Program and has an asteroid named in her honor by the International Astronomical Union. She has received numerous commissions and has composed for the American Composers Orchestra, the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, and the Pilobolus Dance Theater, integrating jazz performers in new settings. She has recorded and produced 13 albums of her music and holds degrees from Yale University and the Yale School of Music. Bloom is currently on the faculty of the New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music in NYC. Her latest release is the award-winning CD, Mental Weather.

Gustavo Casenave is a pianist, composer, producer, and current Director of the Jazz Department at the Harbor Conservatory in New York City. An active performer in the jazz world, he has also directed and performed in almost every major Tango production in the US. Casenave was honored as one of the ten best composers from Berklee College of Music in 30 years (1966-1996). He has performed worldwide at such venues as Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Blue Note, Harris Theatre, Chung Mu Art Hall (Korea), and Lincoln Center, among many others. He has also led master classes at The Juilliard School, NYU, Yale, and several universities worldwide, and served as Bette Midler's musical director for two years. He is the creator, with Vicky Barranguet, of the multimedia show "Painting Tango."

Marty Ehrlich is equally fluent on clarinet, saxophone, and flutes. He has performed and recorded with many top composers and musicians, including Anthony Braxton, Marianne Faithful, and John Zorn. As an ensemble leader, he has made 25 recordings of his compositions for ensembles ranging in size from duo to jazz orchestra, including his Dark Woods Ensemble, Traveler's Tales Group, and Rites Quartet. He has also performed with the Chicago Symphony, the Orchestre National de Lyon, the BBC Concert Orchestra, and the New York City Opera. He has appeared as a soloist with Chamber Music Northwest and with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in pieces composed for him by David Schiff and David Lang. His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition, the Peter Ivers Visiting Artist Residency at Harvard University, and Clarinetist of the Year from the Jazz Journalist Association. He is currently an Associate Professor of Music at Hampshire College.

Jane Ira Bloom, 2009, acrylic on paper, by Rebecca Allan, from her Painting Music series

This program is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State's 62 counties.


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