Roger Goldenberg and Matt Langley have started a 6 week in Ears ‘n’ Eyes Visual Jazz residency at PMAC with students from Saint Patrick School in Portsmouth, NH. On Wednesday, September 4th, 30 students arrived in Haas Hall at the Portsmouth Music and Arts Center for their first taste of visual jazz. Chris Klaxton joined Roger and Matt for the first session during which he played piano and trumpet and gave many insights to the students on his approach to communicating through music and art.
After an explanation of the Visual Jazz concept and a demonstration by Roger, Chris and Matt, the students were very eager to put some paint in motion. Chris and Matt began an improvisation with Tenor Saxophone and Piano. Starting slowly, they gave each student artist a chance to listen closely to the sound of the instruments and to the sounds and shapes of the lines Chris and Matt were playing back and forth. Matt walked around the room to interact with each artist and to get a direct look at the artwork, responding to the artists as well as Chris’ piano. While this creative conversation unfolded Roger offered encouragement to any tentative students and offered all the students insights into creating their visual conversation on their paper. The piece concluded with some of the students completing their work immediately and some still painting and trying to capture what they had just heard.
While a few finished their work, Roger, Chris and Matt started a discussion about some characteristics of Music and Painting. There was a lot of interaction with the students and they provided a wealth of ideas. The next step? Try to find shared characteristics between the art forms. This set many minds in motion and also helped add to the lists of characteristics.
With this in mind, students started a new work on a clean sheet of paper. The results of the discussions were immediately apparent as many students chose a particular characteristic or two to explore more deeply. Chris and Matt talked briefly before beginning another improvisation and agreed to provide some starker contrasts between sections of the improv, experimenting with different grooves and styles. Chris also played some trumpet in this improv, drawing the attention of the young artists to the new sounds and causing them to react quickly with new visual ideas.
The second round of paintings were very different in many cases. Students experimented with density of paint a lot more, using their painted hands to print rhythms and shapes, trying out drips to express motion and a myriad of invented shape to express their impressions of the music. Roger traversed the room to encourage the students, offering technical suggestions based on the style of each student’s painting. For students whose work was dense, perhaps overworked, Roger provided improvised tools made of mat board for scraping and drawing into the paint to reveal the colors that were hidden, yet preserved underneath. Many students seemed to mix colors more to try and achieve some of the characteristics that were discussed in between the two paintings. The results were exciting. Roger and Matt are excited to explore more possibilities when the class meets again. Our guest in the second of the six sessions will be Jonny Peiffer and we’re looking forward to digging into the sounds and rhythms of Jonny’s drumming as well as his piano playing.