Nash Translates Political Speeches into Jazz on Presidential Suite, Due Sept. 9

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Ted Nash

(Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

With election season in full swing, saxophonist Ted Nash is set to launch his own campaign for politically informed big-band jazz. On Sept 9, the Grammy-nominated composer and longtime Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra member will release Presidential Suite: Eight Variations On Freedom, his debut on Motéma Music.

Featuring the Ted Nash Big Band and special guest Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, the eight-movement project interprets iconic political speeches of the 20th century from world leaders John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Jawaharlal Nehru, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Nelson Mandela.

Important figures from the worlds of politics and the arts introduce each movement with a reading of the speech that inspired it. Featured readers include historian and author Douglas Brinkley, public speaker and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra, former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom David Miliband, actor Sam Waterston, lawyer and diplomat William vanden Heuvel and civil rights advocate Andrew Young.

To create the music, originally commissioned by Jazz At Lincoln Center in 2014, Nash transcribed the pitches and rhythms of the presidential speeches as they were spoken and transformed them into original motifs, riffs and melodies, placing each speech into musical contexts that embrace the character, location and era of the president or political leader.

“Great political speeches inspire us to believe we are capable of achieving great things together,” Nash said. “When people listen to Presidential Suite, I want them to be reminded how far we have come but also how much we still have to do with regard to tolerance and freedom. I can’t think of a better time to release Presidential Suite than during this election season.”

A two-disc set, the musical and historical contexts of each speech and musical movement of the album are expanded upon in liner notes The New York Times best-selling authors Kabir Sehgal and Douglas Brinkley.

A member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra since 1998, Nash has built a distinguished career as a saxophonist, composer and bandleader. As a co-founder of the Jazz Composers Collective, he has released 13 critically acclaimed recordings, including 2008’s The Mancini Project (Palmetto) and 2013’s Chakra (Plastic Sax). He also served as a longtime sideman for trumpeter–bandleader Don Ellis and saxophonist Jimmy Heath.

For more information, visit the Motéma website.



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November 2021
Joey DeFrancesco
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