Sunday, March 1, 2009

Jazz Musicians

I hung out with another cartoonist the other night at Ortlieb's Jazzhaus (3rd & Poplar). We did a little drawing and lightly celebrated Mardi Gras while listening to the Haus Band. Ortlieb's is a great place to hear jazz and draw musicians. I've been going there for longer than I care to admit.

Music more than visual art is an inflence on my drawing. The reason is that while drawing, I can absorb music. You can't look down at your drawing table and observe someone else's visual art at the same time. But you can draw and listen to music. Music has an effect on the rhythm of my hand and consequently, my line.

Tuesday night gave me the itch to dig up some of my jazz musician drawings. I have a whole bunch more tucked away in sketchbooks. But these are some of the more polished examples. I'm sure I'll post more as time goes by.

Thelonious Monk plays how I feel. He is probably the biggest artistic influence I have. And when I want to just sit and draw like I draw, I put on a 2 CD set called "Monk Alone" filled with amazing solo piano work. Here are two variations on Monk. One is a bit more realistic with paint, ink, colored pencil, and spray paint:

The other is done with ink, marker, and colored ink. I really tried to accentuate the dichotomy of his music in this piece, showing how both hands are working differently. I used the thin blue crazy lines in the background to try to bring out all his schizophrenic passion. I wound up selling this piece to a fella named Challie, who recently moved to my neighborhood. He's the only other Monk fan I know around here.

P. Jaybon Mason was also known as Mr. Delicious to some folks who'd venture up to the Hollywood Palace at 52nd & Walnut. Jaybon catered a Philadelphia Cartoonist Society party years ago. Some of his sweet potatoes and crab legs spilled in by back seat. Some days I still swear I smell his cooking when I'm driving. Jaybon passed away, but I'll never for get him or his cooking or all of his trumpets. He used to love to play the tune "Hard Times".

Cliff Lamar was a friend of mine who passed in 2006. He played with Nate Wiley & the Crowd Pleasers at Bob & Barbara's for over ten years. When he passed, Nate eulogized him at the funeral by saying, "He was the best part of my band." Cliff was the picture of the word "gentleman". He used to do some drawing himself. I have some of his original sketches. He was also master of the polyrhythms on the drums.
Here are two variations of Billie Holiday I did - pen & ink with Photoshop color. Her voice is so strong and brittle at the same time. Her phrasing is immaculate. She's so subtle and sweet and sad. I like that in the good recordings, you can actually hear her lips pulling apart as she sings.

Nate Wiley was one of the best friends I ever had. He was my hero, and a gigantic influence on me as far as work ethic and family go. I miss him terribly, but I am grateful I got to know him as closely as I did. I did this one for one of his birthdays:
This was a memorial I did after he passed. We made silkscreen prints of it and sold them to benefit his widow, Henrietta. Nate always called me "Pat" even though he knew my name and read it in print. Guess it was just easier for him. He would get ornery sometimes and criticize that I drew him too fat. He'd say, "You sure do make a big man outta me, Pat." And I'd just reply with a smile, "That's because you're larger than life to me, Nate."

No comments: