MoMA Mixtape: Wayne Tucker Embraces a Beautiful New World
Go on a journey of self-discovery and introspection with the Brass Against the Machine musician.
May 23, 2023
As a full-time professional musician, I get inspiration from many aspects of life. That includes playing records by my heroes, listening to beautiful languages (I may or may not understand), or taking in a stirring landscape. I’m constantly inspired, and it’s everywhere.
When I stepped through the front doors at MoMA, I was immediately immersed in a beautiful world. A world that morphs with each of the incredible works. Some works feel like visual interpretations of songs I love; others feel like they would be a great pairing, a unique visual juxtaposition to beautiful musical vibrations.
Roberto Montenegro’s Maya Women + Chick Corea’s “The Matrix”
I fell in love with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland as a child. The rabbits in Montenegro’s painting bring me back to childhood because they feel real and surreal at the same time. They have an intense yet curious vibe, with a playfulness reminiscent of one of my favorite jazz recordings, Chick Corea’s “The Matrix.”
Roberto Montenegro. Maya Women. 1926
Tebo (Ángel Torres Jaramillo). Portrait of My Mother. 1937
Tebo’s Portrait of My Mother + Buika’s “Soledad”
I have a deeper connection to my mother than to anyone else, but at times I feel lonely. I can feel loneliness in the intensity of Tebo’s gaze. Buika’s lyrics for the song “Soledad” (or “Solitude”) and Jaramillo’s painting depict this exact feeling.
When I stepped through the front doors at MoMA, I was immediately immersed in a beautiful new world. A world that morphs with each of the incredible works.
Wayne Tucker at MoMA
Tina Modotti. Worker’s Hands. 1927
Tina Modotti’s Worker’s Hands + Ibrahim Maalouf’s “Beirut”
For me, Modotti’s photograph is one of the most captivating works in the entire museum. It’s clear and vivid but also abstract because we don’t see faces or colors. Workers Hand’s leaves so much to the imagination, just like the intro to Maalouf’s piece “Beirut,” which starts as a serene, vulnerable duet between the trumpet and guitar.
Fernand Leger’s Three Women + Thundercat’s “Them Changes”
Somehow Leger’s Three Women and Thundercat’s “Them Changes” feel like works of art from the future, yet they’re not even from the same century. Both feel avant-garde yet groovy, precise yet malleable, and filled with unique pairings of color, texture, and timbre.
Fernand Léger. Three Women. 1921–22
Wayne Tucker at MoMA
Claude Monet. Agapanthus. 1914–26
Claude Monet’s Agapanthus + Bill Evans’s “Blue in Green”
Agapanthus and “Blue in Green” take me into another world. Featured on the best-selling jazz album of all time, “Blue in Green” is a piece I’ve been listening to since I was an infant. This was my first in-person encounter with Monet. But his painting felt magnetizing as soon as I entered the room, and for a few minutes, I got to live in a world of blues and greens.
T. C. Cannon’s Two Guns Arikara + Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou’s “Homesickness”
Simple and traditional yet beautifully unique, Two Guns Arikara is striking, but also one of the most challenging pieces for me to pair with a piece of music. “Homesickness” is a solo work by the incredible Ethiopian pianist, composer, and nun Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou. Every note of the piece is easy to hear, and feels almost traditional, yet I know nothing else that sounds like it. These works have taught me to find my own voice even within the simplest artistic expressions.
T. C. Cannon. Two Guns Arikara. 1973/1977
Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe. Ron Bacardi y Compania, S.A., Administration Building project, Santiago, Cuba. 1957
Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe’s administration building for Ron Bacardi y Compania, Santiago, Cuba + RH Factor’s “Listen Here”
Van der Rohe’s work reminds me of an old television trying to find a signal, just as trumpeter Roy Hargrove’s version of “Listen Here” tries to find the groove. The breaks and pauses in the beat pair perfectly with every missing dot of the Ron Bacardi y Compania rendering.
Emery Douglas’s Black Panther Newspaper + Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People”
Groovy, filled with life, and unapologetically Black, both the painting and the song would be in my father’s collection. I love the innocence in the eyes of the gun-holding Black Panther, just as I love the innocent curiosity in the music of Sly Stone.
Emery Douglas. The Black Panther Newspaper, vol. 3, no. 2. 1969
Joanne Leonard. Daytime TV and Kitchen Counter. c. 1970
Joanne Leonard’s Daytime TV and Kitchen Counter + The Carpenters’ “Close to You”
The appliances, the cabinets, and the vibes in this picture feel like my grandmother’s house. Leonard’s photographs also look like the collection of photographs from my mother’s childhood. The Carpenters’ version of Burt Bacharach’s “Close to You” is something we listened to on repeat on family drives from New York to South Carolina every summer when we visited my grandmother. I heard Karen Carpenter’s voice as soon as I saw those vintage 1960s cabinets.
Anne Ryan’s Number 706 (Red Collage No. III) + John Coltrane’s “Equinox”
“All colors, arcs, patterns, images, have steady room for themselves to move about and resolve at last under the fingers.” This Anne Ryan quote is exactly how I feel when I listen to and analyze John Coltrane’s music. Musically, Coltrane was constantly developing, morphing, and growing. He had a fascination with patterns which resolve in beautiful and unexpected ways. Ryan’s Number 706 (Red Collage No. III) and Coltrane’s autumn-inspired “Equinox” are perfect, from the color palette to their artistic ideals.
Anne Ryan. Number 706 (Red Collage No. III). 1954
Underwood and Underwood. Above Fifth Avenue, Looking North. 1905
Underwood and Underwood’s Above Fifth Avenue, Looking North + Wayne Tucker’s “All By Yourself”
New York City is one of the world’s most intense and densely populated places, yet it can feel as lonely as anywhere on Earth. The subject of the photo sits above millions of people, and yet he’s all alone. Even when he descends back to street level, he may be all alone still. My song “All By Yourself” reflects the loneliness I felt as a heartbroken college student wandering the streets and riding the subway in the summer of 2007.
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