Series of four paintings as they were being painted in my studio, each 24″ x 36″, pigmented ink and acrylic on canvas
Framed and on the wall…
I call this series “Jazz Four”, even though strictly speaking it is “Jazz Two or Three + Blues One or Two”. The series of four portraits depicts legends Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and BB King. The series is being created for Dan, who selected the subjects and also the song themes for each subject: “It Don’t mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got that Swing)” – Duke Ellington; “Strange Fruit” – Billie Holiday, “What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong and “The Thrill is Gone” – BB King. In each case the words and sheet music for the song is woven into the composition. The portrait of Duke Ellington was inspired by a photograph taken by Reggie Jackson, the great uncle of my friend and amazing jazz singer, Kim Nalley, who kindly gave me permission for its use. Thank you Kim!
There is a story behind each portrait: the elegance and pride of Duke; the pain, pathos and beauty of Billie; the outer/inner conflict of Louis, playing a song about joy and yet looking pained and whilst being a State Department-sponsored Jazz Ambassador to the world facing such discrimination at home; and then BB’s unadulterated passion and joy as he sings the blues about the thrill being gone….Each one a complex tapestry of emotion that tugs at our own hearts.