Blog: MCA DNA

Jazz Movement Study: Ari Brown Quintet

By Chad Kouri

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Red and yellow curlicue lines painted offset in nearly identical forms
Chad Kouri, Jazz Movement Study, 2015 Courtesy of the artist

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Chad Kouri continues his Jazz Movement Studies with a visual and poetic interpretation of Ari Brown’s performance last Tuesday.

Tuesdays on the Terrace with the Ari Brown Quintet was a real treat. More a stroll than a sprint, Brown’s saxophone lines floated over top of the locked-in rhythm section, wandering about while never sounding lost. The crowd was dense but casual. A sharply-dressed slender man at stage left couldn’t help but hoot and holler at the organ player, egging him on every step of the way: “That’s it! Wooh-weee! That’s right! Get it!” This is by far my favorite thing about live jazz shows. Old men and women uncontrollably ecstatic over licks and rhythms like they are possessed by some kind of juke and giggle demon. You couldn’t tie them down if you tried.

The meandrous nature of the tunes influenced me to try a new system in my drawings; the plan being to lay down two colors of pattern to represent the unwavering rhythm section, and plot out various large black dots on top—like pins on a map—over time connecting them one by one until the last dot links back to the start. With the first two drawings feeling a bit timid and unbalanced, I chose to speed up my drawing pace on the third and fourth (illustrated below), forcing me to trust where the music led my arm, with no time for second guessing.

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Toward the end of the first set—as I became eyebrow deep in my newsprint pad—I heard another saxophone enter the performance. I looked up to investigate and to my surprise the same five performers are on the stage. I scan the group a second time and realize that Brown had picked up a soprano saxophone, slid it in his mouth next to his tenor and was playing both instruments simultaneously.

Needless to say, the sharp-and-slender hoot-and-hollerer had sounded the alarm moments earlier, so I should have known something was going down. I stopped dead in my tracks and watched Brown, who was still playing riffs that seemed to hover over the group like helium. From that point on I decided to draw with two markers at once, and to my surprise, the outcome was quite nice. One gesture simultaneously creating two paths almost like an offset print. It’s rediscovering these seemingly simple, almost cliche techniques in a new way that keeps me interested in making things, and jazz music itself for that matter.

Featured image

Blue and red curlicue lines painted offset in nearly identical forms
Chad Kouri, Jazz Movement Study, 2015 Courtesy of the artist

Featured image

Red and yellow curlicue lines painted offset in nearly identical forms
Chad Kouri, Jazz Movement Study, 2015 Courtesy of the artist