February 8, 2010  |  Artists
Portrait in Seven Shades: Matisse

For the Portrait in Seven Shades piece—which we performed last week at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater—my goal was to select seven recognizable artists whose different styles would help create a contrast between each of the seven movements in the piece.

I’ve already talked about the “Monet” and “Dalí” movements, and today am moving on to “Matisse,” which very much expresses the reaction I have when I see Henri Matisse‘s paintings such as Dance (I): joy.

What I love about Matisse is the childlike-quality and playfulness apparent in his paintings. He was a master of color. There is a quirkiness in his works, and instead of becoming more and more sophisticated, he became more and more simple, as with the cutouts he did later in life. I think Matisse is somebody who didn’t conform, very much like pianist Thelonious Monk. In fact, Monk’s rhythmic quirkiness was an influence when I approached this movement.

Matisse wrote, “I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces in me.” This is how I felt when I composed this movement.