“I decided that the second piece I selected for this project would be an abstract work. Since the first piece selected had the jazz vibe at its core, it was beautifully coincidental that I’d choose a work created by this Puerto Rican abstract Expressionist artist, Olga Albizu who also had strong connections to jazz. Since the first piece was a solo guitar jazz piece, I wanted the second piece to continue in the jazz vein, but within an ensemble framework.
“While exploring Olga Albizu’s artwork and connection to jazz great Stan Getz & his patronage; having her artwork featured on several Verve Jazz album covers, I found myself delving deeper into this Olga Albizu/Stan Getz connection. This led me to Brazilian Jazz; Bossa Nova, and then, guitarist Antônio Carlos Jobim (composer of the famous Girl from Ipanema), whose style of music would be a focal point for the design of my piece.
“As a composer, I have long found that mixing genres, instrument roles, & colors have led to refreshing interplay, hues, and textural possibilities. For selfish reasons, I included my newly acquired minstrel banjo into this piece. The minstrel banjo (a civil war period replica), which has a lower voice than the modern banjo, nylon strings, and is fretless, led me to think it would partner well with the nylon string guitar, already planned for this work.
“I subtitled this piece Brazilian Mirage. I wanted to lay a framework that would house the Brazilian Bossa Nova like presence without any expectation. Then, as soon as it seems to appear, it disappears! This would be my musical abstract likeness to Olga’s Untitled Abstract. The first section starts with a fusion groove in the cello which includes a combination of pizzicato, egg shaker, and top wood hits from a single player. In the second section, the cello goes into percussion mode with col legno (the wood of the bow hitting the strings), while the minstrel banjo takes ‘front and center’, followed by the joining doumbek drum. Then behold, the Brazilian essenced rhythm seamlessly sneaks into the jam, and then soon after, it is gone!
About the Artwork
Date: ca. 1965
Artist: Olga Albizu, Puerto Rican, 1924 – 2005
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Purchased in memory of David and Muriel Gregg through the generosity of their estate
Object Number: 2018.23
Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts – Visit website
About the Musician
Composer, cellist, singer/songwriter, guitarist and owner of Broughton Music Center & Northville Center for Music & Art, Laurie A. Jarski is a professional cellist in the Presence of Three Trio, Red Willow Dream, the Battle Creek Symphony, C.O.R.E.tet String Quartet, and principal cellist with The National Women’s Music Festival Orchestra under Nan Washburn.
Laurie has composed commissioned works for orchestra, chamber orchestra, choir, and a variety of chamber ensemble pieces.
Her current compositional endeavors are women focused – one project honors pioneering women of the professional orchestra world (Lois Schaefer, flutist of The Boston Symphony, and Winifred Mayes, cellist of Philadelphia Orchestra); another explores the powerful rhythm of speech possessed by some of the great women in our history: Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Kiran Bedi, Hillary Clinton, Viola Davis, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Michelle Obama, Michelle Bachelet, and Queen Elizabeth II.