2019 Jazz Envisioned: Manhattan Lullaby with Jazz Composer and Pianist Chris Ziemba
I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of Jazz aficionado Chris Ziemba. Chris not only composes, he is one of the great pianists in our area. He currently living outside the DC area while he serves as the pianist for The Airmen of Note, The Airforce Jazz Ensemble who are renowned for being the best of the best!
In 2016 Chris wrote the album Manhattan Lullaby. After getting a copy, I ask him if I could personify his writing and album for my 2019 solo show at The Workhouse Arts Center. He was so very kind and said yes!. I immediately set out to create the art. As with all of my projects, there is a lengthy ‘thinking’ time that needs to occur as I structure my ideas. One stage one is done, I set out to create the art with the themes I’ve just been processing.
The main walls for the show were going to feature one song, Josie. I wanted to capture his notational cell structure of his motif and actually show how it varied in a nearly note for note visual representation going in and out of 62 frames. One could follow the song throughout.
The middle line left the note for note structure and instead represented the solo improvisation by instrument. The one below represents the drums and their feel.
I wanted to to create the majority of the album and show in black & white.
I did however work on his song ‘Wandering’ with a color pallet. Chris wrote this song about Manhattan’s colorfull and surprising trees, flowers and parks, juxtaposed within all the concrete and brick neighborhods. Wandering to find lovely gems within the island. This work is an bird’s-eye overview of the buildings and parks that one finds while wandering.
Chris was kind enough to come to the studio for a meet and great and to perform many of the pieces from his album. Below are audio of Chris discussing his writing ideas for his composition, Manhattan Lullaby, title piece of his album.
Audio of Chris’ performance of Manhattan Lullaby below
For this piece I wanted to capture the reflections in the Manhattan’s scrapers that move and morph as you walk by. Instead of the monumental massive concrete look that we all know of Manhattan, I wanted to match Chris’ elegant lightness within his nuanced playing.
Everyone had an amazing time. Hearing such a brilliant musical mind and with such nuanced command of the instrument is a really joy! I am forever grateful for his collaboration. To hear Chris’ music visit: http://www.chrisziemba.com/ Chris also performs regularly at The Arts Club of Washington.