Painting a Fugue

Jeremy Harrison, the artist

Dance of Color

I worked for hours trying to get something to work with this piece. Although this is my best result, I wasn’t initially satisfied with it and didn’t send it to Peter for several days. The quick contrasting changes in the music seem to call for a staccato approach on my part.Merged too painting halfway done

For most of the duration of the piece, I am painting with both my right and left hands, allowing me to quickly follow one stroke of paint with another of a different color. Though content with the dance of color, it is difficult to avoid a cluttered compositional space by the time the piece ends.

Peter Saltzman, headshot

Welcome to My World!

I just love that the piece forced Jeremy to paint with both hands. Hey, the piano’s a two-handed instrument where the hands, at the very least, act interdependently and more often than not independently. (Though, somewhat ironically, they’re acting together in this improvisation.) But whether he was conscious of it or not, watching Jeremy paint separate lines with each hand here is very much like contrapuntal piano music. So cool!

Peter Saltzman, headshot

Cecil Taylor

Listening to the improvisation now, it’s obvious to me that it was inspired by the late great pianist-composer, Cecil Taylor. Taylor, who died in 2018, is often called, “one of the pioneers of the free jazz movement.”Pianist-Composer Cecil TaylorBut that’s entirely misleading. He would tell you that his music was anything but anarchic, that is was instead tightly structured around strong themes. Just not the kind we’re used to hearing from mainstream jazz.

About the Artists

Jeremy Harrison, the artistJeremy Harrison recently retired from teaching art at The Rivers School in Weston, Massachusetts where he was on the faculty since 1988.  His teaching included drawing, painting, printmaking, and digital photography.  He earned a BA from Kenyon College in 1982 double majoring in studio art and religion. He earned his MFA from the University of Iowa in 1985 majoring in printmaking and minoring in drawing. Inspiration for his landscape images comes from his experiences in the wildernesses of Canada, the Adirondacks, and Maine. An experienced canoeist, he helped lead a six-man, 800-mile canoe journey across the Canadian tundra to the Arctic Ocean. He continues to canoe and hike in Maine, Massachusetts, and the Adirondacks while making paintings, prints, drawings, and photographs as often as possible.

Peter Saltzman, headshotWith a deep jazz-and-blues core, Peter Saltzman has produced a broad career in the music industry as composer, pianist, singer-songwriter, and author. Various ensembles have performed and recorded his work globally—the Czech National Symphony Orchestra recorded his orchestral dance suite “Walls” (1996), and the Dallas Black Dance Theatre performed “Walls” during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The Dallas Morning News reviewed Saltzman’s music as “powerful stuff.” His second album, Kabbalah Blues/Quantum Funk (2000), earned critical acclaim for its jazz/classical/pop fusion, hailed as “ambitious, richly layered, wonderfully accessible.” Saltzman studied jazz at Indiana University (Bloomington) and composition at Eastman School of Music. He was an adjunct professor of music at Columbia College Chicago, where he taught music technology and piano. His concert works are published by Oxford University Press; his film and television works are published by Wild Whirled Music. Saltzman’s music has been licensed for television shows, jingles, and industrials, including My Name is Earl (NBC, 2006).

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