The Hearing Eye: Jazz & Blues Influences in African American Visual Art

By Graham Lock; David Murray | Go to book overview

FOURTEEN
A Jackson in the House: Musicians Talk Painters

Interviews by Graham Lock

These last two interviews explore a different facet of music’s relationship with painting. Whereas the preceding conversations have featured visual artists who have been inspired by music, here I talk with two musicians who have not only been influenced by the visual arts but have recorded CDs that relate to specific painters whom they greatly admire—Marty Ehrlich’s The Long View (2002) comprises music that he wrote for an exhibition of work by Oliver Jackson; Jane Ira Bloom’s Chasing Paint (2003) is her tribute to Jackson Pollock.


I. MARTY EHRLICH ON OLIVER JACKSON

Multiple reeds and winds player Marty Ehrlich was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1955 and grew up in St. Louis, where he found early musical inspiration from that city’s Black Artists’ Group (BAG), especially from saxophonist Julius Hemphill, who became a mentor and friend.1 Ehrlich later studied at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music, where his teachers included Jaki Byard, Joe Maneri, and George Russell. He has recorded with many eminent musicians, including Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, and Andrew Hill, as well as leading his own groups, such as the Dark Woods Ensemble.

In the spring of 2000 he and painter Oliver Jackson (also from St. Louis and a founding member of BAG) were invited to Harvard to collaborate on a project—dedicated to Julius Hemphill—that involved Ehrlich writing and recording music to be played throughout an exhibition of new Jackson paintings in 2002–3. (Figures 14.1 and 14.2 are examples of Jackson’s work for that exhibition, to which he later gave the title The Garden Series.) The music was released on CD as The Long View.

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