Neither a poster boy for the avant-garde nor a blinders-on traditionalist, Nash is simply his own man. – WASHINGTON POST
Ted Nash Big Band Debuts on Motéma Music September 9 With Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom, Large-Scale Jazz Compositions Inspired by Iconic Speeches of 20th Century World Leaders Including JFK, FDR, Churchill, Mandela and Nehru
Special 2-CD Package Features Guest Readers Deepak Chopra, Glenn Close, Joe Lieberman, David Miliband, William vanden Heuvel, Sam Waterston, Andrew Young and Guest Artist Wynton Marsalis * Liner Notes by New York Times Best-Selling Authors Douglas Brinkley and Kabir Sehgal *
On September 9, 2016, GRAMMY® Award-nominated composer, arranger and multi- instrumentalist TED NASH will release his third large ensemble recording, Ted Nash Big Band – Presidential Suite: Eight Variations On Freedom. It is an ambitious, culturally trenchant album inspired by eight iconic political speeches of the 20th century, each centering on the essential human need for freedom. Marking Nash’s debut on Motéma Music and his 13th recording as a leader, the full suite features an overture plus eight movements, each preceded by inspirational words from a famed world leader: John F. Kennedy, Jawaharlal Nehru, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Aung San Suu Kyi, Lyndon B. Johnson and Nelson Mandela.
Presidential Suite highlights Nash’s absolutely unique approach to this material. Nash transcribed the actual pitches and rhythms of the speeches and then transformed them into motifs, riffs and grooves, placing each into musical contexts that embrace the character, location and era of the speaker. Working with the world-class players of the Ted Nash Big Band, he wove the spaces for solos into these eight through-composed works, and his colleagues in the band did their own research into the meaning and history of the underlying speeches. They responded with solos of remarkable sensitivity and power. Nash writes:
When I hear a speech offered from the soul of a great person, I’m moved by the rhythm, the cadence, the pauses, what it communicates, and even the audience’s reaction. It’s like music. Great political speeches inspire us to believe we are capable of achieving great things together. It is my hope that when people listen to Presidential Suite, they will be reminded of not only how far we have come but also of how much we still have to do regarding human rights and freedom.
The astounding result is that every moment of Nash’s score is imbued with the essence – with the very sound – of the presidential speech that inspired it. Ultimately he transforms these impassioned words by inspirational leaders into music – our universal human language – and frees them from the pages of history.
It’s the genius of Ted Nash to realize that a stirring speech also has inherent musical qualities: lyrics, cadence, rhythm, and melody…we are given a chance to consider again the greatness and meaning of these speeches. And by reinterpreting these familiar speeches into music, Nash allows us to hear them afresh, in all the vigor and spontaneity with which they were first delivered. – From the liner notes by Douglas Brinkley and Kabir Sehgal.
After recording his musical interpretations of each speech and essay, Nash and Executive Producer Kabir Sehgal invited guests with special connections to these leaders to read each text passage: actors Glenn Close and Sam Waterston bring their humanitarian convictions and special skills for interpreting historic figures; civil rights legend and politician Andrew Young was a close friend of Nelson Mandela; Senator Joe Lieberman was inspired by Kennedy to run for public office; author and wellness expert Deepak Chopra met Nehru when he was a boy in India; CNN History commentator and author Douglas Brinkley edited Reagan’s diaries; diplomat William vanden Heuvel directed the Roosevelt Institute and founded the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy in New York City; and David Miliband, former Secretary of State for Commonwealth and Foreign Affairs for the United Kingdom, was deeply influenced by Churchill’s speeches. The musical and historical contexts of each speech and musical movement of Presidential Suite are revealed in the extensive liner notes by New York Times best-selling authors Brinkley and Seghal.
Ted Nash is known for his unique ability to mine other art forms to inspire his own musical creations and to put forth expansive ideas about the universal human experience. Regarded as one of the most significant jazz composers of the 21st century, his last large ensemble recording, Portrait in Seven Shades, explored the form, colors and compositions of Matisse, Chagall, Pollock and other great painters and garnered two GRAMMY® Award-nominations.
The project features the Ted Nash Big Band: Ted Nash, Dan Nimmer, Carlos Henriquez, Ali Jackson, Sherman Irby, Charles Pillow, Victor Goines, Walter Blanding, Paul Nedzela, Ryan Kisor, Kenny Rampton, Marcus Printup, Greg Gisbert, Vincent Gardner, Chris Crenshaw and Elliot Mason. Special musical guests are: Wynton Marsalis and Joe Temperly, Nash’s longtime orchestra colleague who passed away in May. Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom was originally commissioned by Jazz At Lincoln Center, of which Nash has been a member since 1998. The work premiered there in 2014 and then at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Disc one features the full suite, in which the words of each iconic leader are read by a current day arts, sports or political figure, and are then reinterpreted musically by Nash and his finely tuned ensemble, which transforms the speeches into timeless works of musical art. A second bonus disc features the musical selections by themselves.
My hope is that people will be moved by the music and also by the incredible sentiment found in these speeches. They are timeless variations on freedom. I see it as our privilege and responsibility as artists and as citizens to remind our leaders of what is important. I’m excited to share this with all music fans and believers in freedom and democracy worldwide,” shares Nash.
About Ted Nash. Performer, conductor, composer, arranger and educator, the twice GRAMMY®Award-nominated Ted Nash co-founded the Jazz Composers Collective and has released 13 acclaimed albums. His first screenplay was recently optioned. The son of trombonist Dick Nash and namesake of uncle Ted Nash – well-known studio and jazz musicians – the younger Nash has been a musician since he was 12 and a composer since he was 15.
About Douglas Brinkley. The CNN presidential historian is a professor of history at Rice University and author of more than twenty books. With Johnny Depp, he wrote the liner notes to Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, which were nominated for a GRAMMY® Award.
About Kabir Sehgal. His musical productions have won two GRAMMY® Awards. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of several books including Jazzocracy: Jazz, Democracy, and the Creation of a New American Mythology.
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