Chris Potter & Joe Lovano: The Jazz of Art

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Thursday May 19, 2011

From The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Jazz of Art
Two musicians interpret the Art Museum’s first acquisition in honor of Anne d’Harnoncourt
By: Shaun Brady

You can’t blame Chris Potter for being a little flummoxed.

Tasked with composing a new piece of music based on one of the paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection, the saxophonist was handed not a lush, colorful masterpiece of French impressionism or an explosion of color à la Jackson Pollock, but a stark, austere black-on-white piece by the minimalist Ellsworth Kelly.

“To be honest,” Potter recalls, “my first reaction when I saw it was, ‘Wow, what on Earth am I going to do with this?’ “

Fortunately, Kelly provided the answer as well as the challenge. The title of his 1951 work, Seine, serves to focus the image on his canvas from a series of randomly intersecting black geometric shapes into the impression of light reflecting on water. “I ended up thinking about the flow of water, the patterns of light, and the polarities of light and dark,” Potter says.

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