SBCC’s jazz bands to play with Grammy Award-winning artist

Grammy Award-winning artist Ted Nash virtually attends a Lunch Break Big Band rehearsal on Oct. 1 in the Drama/Music building at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. The band members each play original compositions for Nash, then receive feedback on their work.

Bianca Ascencio, Arts and Entertainment Editor

City College’s New World Jazz Ensemble is set to perform original pieces alongside Grammy Award-winning artist Ted Nash.

Nash, of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and among the world’s foremost woodwind players, is part of a program with the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and City College students. The program is part of a six-week workshop he is doing with music majors. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students to work closely with a multi-Grammy winner.

“We’re working with Ted Nash who is the principal woodwind player of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra,” said Jim Mooy, conductor of the City College Symphony Orchestra and leader of the Lunch Break Jazz Ensemble.

Students were assigned to compose jazz songs, each inspired by different pieces of art.

Nine years ago, Nash wrote a Grammy-nominated piece called “Portrait in Seven Shades.” The composition was inspired by famous paintings from artists featuring Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. His suite consists of seven movements, each inspired by the acclaimed artists. He described his impressions of each piece of art and played the corresponding musical composition it inspired.

Nash is using that same process to lead the students, by going to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and getting inspired by the pieces there. Using this creative process, the students think about the artist’s creative process for creating their art while also trying to interpret it into fleshed-out compositions.

Nash worked directly with the students each week, offering feedback and suggestions as the students compose music for the 10-piece jazz ensemble.

“I’m incredibly honored,” said band member Jezreel Real about working with Nash. “I compose a lot of music and it’s really cool to have my stuff looked at by a professional.” 

The students picked one painting to write a piece of music for. Over the following five weeks the students developed their songs and ideas to start putting together a concert featuring their original music inspired by visual art.

“We’ve put it all together, the SBCC connection with the museum of art connection,” said Mooy. “And now we have our students able to participate in this event that is co-sponsored by the museum.” 

The concert will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9th at the front terrace of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The event will be free to attend with tickets available on the museum’s website.