As a founding member of the Jazz Composers Collective, Ted Nash fully embraced that organization’s heady eclecticism and passion for originality. A versatile, compelling saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist, he led small combos that showed a special affinity for Latin American sounds. But, as befits someone who played with legends like Lionel Hampton, Quincy Jones and Louie Bellson starting in his teens, Nash also showed a healthy regard for tradition. Since 1998 he’s filled what Wynton Marsalis termed the “wild-card chair” in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
That role paid dividends in 2007, when the Lincoln Center crew debuted Nash’s Portraits in Seven Shades, a prodigious suite based on canvases at the Museum of Modern Art. Chakra, Nash’s new big-band project, is as ambitious, evoking what Hindu tradition defines as the seven major energy centers of the body. However esoteric the notion might sound, the results heard on his new CD are anything but: Nash’s vivid writing, elegantly executed by an airtight ensemble, pulses, throbs and vibrates with all the passion of life itself.—Steve Smith
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