Modern jazz quartet with guest Sonny Rollins

Sam Nhlengethwa
Modern jazz quartet with guest Sonny Rollins, 2021
Mixed media on canvas
Work: 109.8 x 130.1 x 9.8 cm

Nhlengethwa was born into a family of jazz lovers; his two brothers both collected jazz music and his eldest brother was a jazz musician. ‘Painting jazz pieces is an avenue or outlet for expressing my love for the music’, he once said in an interview. ‘As I paint, I listen to jazz and visualize the performance. Jazz performers improvise within the conventions of their chosen styles’ (Nhlengethwa, S., Art Throb, 2003). In an ensemble, for example, there are vocal styles that include freedom of vocal colour, call-and-response patterns and rhythmic complexities played by different members. Painting jazz allows the artist to literally put colour onto these vocal colours. He believes jazz ‘emphasizes interpretation rather than composition. There are deliberate tonal distortions that contribute to its uniqueness (Nhlengethwa, S., Art Throb, 2003), this enables Nhlengethwa, as a collagist and painter, to use these deliberate tonal distortions and exaggerated patterns as a technique in exploring his artistic freedom and license.