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Matisse Jazz Project
October 7, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT
Program: Teaching the Eye to Hear: Musical Reflections on Henri Matisse’s Jazz
The Matisse Jazz Project is, as the name suggests, Jazz music inspired by the iconic cut paper collages of Henri Matisse, published in 1947. The twenty pieces composed by pianist Christopher Bakriges correspond to each of the Matisse Jazz cutouts and his writings. Matisse viewed jazz as a “chromatic and rhythmic improvisation” and evoked the idea of a structure of rhythm and repetition broken by the unexpected action of improvisations. Matisse wrote, “There are wonderful things in real jazz, the talent for improvisation, the liveliness, the being at one with the audience.” Bakriges leaves his own stunningly touching and virtuosic homage to the legacy of a leading figure in modern art.
Christopher Bakriges, Ph.D., (piano), Visiting Professor, Massachusetts College of Art and Design; Lecturer, Elms College
Zach Brock, (violin), M.A. (violin), Artist in Residence, Temple University
Oboist, English hornist Peter Wortmann, a long time principal of the Farmington Valley Symphony Orchestra, will appear as guest artist on several of the pieces
In 1941 the artist Henri Matisse found himself ill, bedridden, and unable to pick up a paint brush. He found, however, that he could maneuver scissors through prepared sheets of brightly colored paper. He referred to this technique as “painting with scissors.” Among his first adventures with paper cutouts was a book called Jazz, which Matisse prepared in 1942 and published in 1947. The book containing twenty color plates as well as his written thoughts was initially only printed in a hundred copies. Matisse viewed jazz as a “chromatic and rhythmic improvisation.”
Christopher Bakriges, piano and composer
Bakriges is of Greek American decent, born in Detroit. The rich cultural firmament of Motown cultivated his taste for music as an expression of emotion, communication, and social change. Bakriges graduated with degrees in world music from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and in ethnomusicology from York University in Toronto, Canada. His teachers have included Oscar Peterson, Harold Danko, Nadi Qamar, Jimmy Giuffre, Anthony Braxton, Tanjore Vishwanathan, Frederick Simmons, and Alvin Lucier. His repertoire has forged a unique path that embodies the essence of jazz exploration, global influences and pure improvisation.
Bakriges is artist in residence at two Massachusetts schools, MassArt in Boston and Elms College in Chicopee. His most recent album, Clear and Present, is a quartet with Jay Hoggard, Avery Sharpe, and Billy Arnold. He made his international debut at India’s Jazz Yatra Festival. He has since performed in Pakistan, Turkey, France, England, the Czech Republic, and throughout Canada and North America.
Zach Brock, violin
Heralded as “the pre-eminent improvising violinist of his generation,” Zach Brock is a violinist and composer whose music draws on the traditions of jazz, classical, world, and popular music. Zach received his Grammy Award in 2017 for his work on Snarky Puppy’s album Culcha Vulcha and Downbeat Magazine named him the ‘Rising star Violinist’ of 2013. His acclaim as a bandleader has grown through appearances at venues such as Carnegie Hall and festivals like “Tudo é Jazz” in Brazil, while his reputation as a sideman has spread through his work with legendary bassist Stanley Clarke, contemporary instrumental super-group Snarky Puppy, and jazz masters Phil Markowitz and Dave Liebman. Zach has made ten recordings as a leader or co-leader and is the first violinist to record for the venerable Dutch jazz label Criss Cross. Zach has also represented the U.S. Department of State as a Musical Ambassador in the Solomon Islands, has performed as a featured soloist for two Sundance Festival feature film scores, and is currently an “Artist in Residence” at Temple University in Philadelphia.
“I was almost breathless as I listened to the works, sometimes melodious, other times, cutting edge like the blades of scissors…to this day, I carry the music with me, still not believing the work was improvisational.”
–Carol Dine, Author, Van Gogh in Poems
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