Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Alessandro Bazan: Jazz Paintings

Alessandro Bazan Jazz Paintings

Many fine artists’ work has graced the covers of jazz albums. Andy Warhol for instance, created covers for Kenny Burrell’s Blue Lights and Johnny Griffin’s The Congregation. Other artists, like Romare Bearden and Jackson Pollock have taken direct inspiration from jazz. Italian Alessandro Bazan also finds his inspiration from American jazz, as his new collection Jazz Paintings demonstrates, even while being identified as a leader of a new generation of Palermo based artists.

Bazan explains: “When I begin a new work, the first thing I do is put on a record and it is almost always a jazz record.” (p. 26) It is a music Bazan says he always identified with because “my generation (those born in 1966) didn’t have their own music, something that could give them a sense of belonging. I couldn’t get with Duran Duran and when I was about fifteen I began to listen to jazz music.” (p.17)

Bazan’s work often depicts nightclub scenes, like Blues for Torin (2005), pictured as the wrap-around cover, and reproduced without type within. Other paintings, like Orange Blues (2002) depict jazz combos against almost surreal backdrops. Frequent subjects include Jaco Pastorius and Charles Mingus, as well as Chet Baker and John Coltrane, both pictured in Impossible Quartet (2005).

As the companion book for a Bazan exhibition presented in conjunction with the Umbria Jazz Festival, Jazz Paintings should bring the artist to the attention of the wider jazz community. It is a beautiful book with many color reproductions of his paintings, as well as some black and white drawings accompanying the brief introductory material.

Bazan’s work with its strong colors and clear jazz aesthetic should earn him a place in jazz enthusiasts’ art pantheon along with Bearden and Francis Wolff. That an Italian painter can draw such inspiration from this music, once again demonstrates the vitality and universality of America’s true original music, jazz.