Jazz Inspired By Picasso

Bruce Von Stiers

Jeff Rupert leads a jazz studies program at the University of Southern Florida. He is the leader of the Flying Horse Big Band that I reviewed albums from. Rupert is also the leader of The Jazz Professors, another jazz ensemble.

This past summer, The Jazz Professors released an album titled Blues and Cubes. It is an album that was inspired by the art of Pablo Picasso. Particularly the stylings of Picasso's Blue Period and his exploration of Cubism.

The album was recorded in June of 2021 and contains mostly original compositions. It has ten songs and a play time of over fifty minutes. The album was released on the Flying Horse Records label.

On the album, Rupert mostly plays the tenor saxophone, but on one song he plays the alto sax. The other personnel are Per Danielsson on piano, Bobby Koelbe on electric and acoustic guitar, Richard Drexler on bass and Marty Morell on drums and percussion. Dan Miller, who died unexpectedly just as the album was being promoted, was on trumpet.

The first song is Blue Lamp. It starts out with some subtle sax, drum, and piano. A bit of trumpet enters in and then bass making this a nice mellow piece.

Dora Maar was a romantic partner of Picasso's, as well as the subject of a few of his paintings. There is a song on this album titled Dora Maar. It captures a lot of the essence of what is imagined about Maar, who was a painter, poet, and photographer.

was a controversial painting by Picasso of five prostitutes in a brothel in Barcelona. The song on this album with the same title is somewhat busy and fast paced, with a lot of saxophone.

Blue Steel is a soft and sultry piece featuring saxophone and drum.

The group does a really good job of the Charlie Parker song, Segment, although it is a bit busier than the original.

Then there is the soft and gentle song, View of Heaven.

A fun and smile effecting rendition of the Sidney Bechet song, Promenade aux Champs-Elysees is on the album.

A stroll along a Parisian alley late in the evening might come to mind is the smooth song, Promenade In Blue.

Picasso's Blue Lobster is a soft, yet almost sad sounding song.

The Iberian is the last song on the album. It is a nice piece that makes good use of the trumpet and saxophone. The piece is vibrant and slightly complicated, as was the artist, Picasso.

Sometimes theme-based albums work and sometimes not. This one works well. I had never thought of anyone doing an entire album based on the art and life of Pablo Picasso. Not knowing much about Picasso, I had to research some of the references for the song content and titles. But as I did, I got an appreciation for what The Jazz Professors were trying to accomplish with the music on Blues and Cubes. This is not the typical theme-based album, and I rather liked it.

Blues and Cubes is available at most music retailers and streaming services. Check out this album and other offerings from Flying Horse Records at https://flyinghorserecords.com/

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© 2022 Bruce E Von Stiers