Inventive trumpeter/composer Jason Palmer unveils a remarkable new suite inspired by the history-making 1990 art theft at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Concert: 12 Musings for Isabella debuts Palmer’s all-star quintet featuring Mark Turner, with Joel Ross, Kendrick Scott and Edward Perez
The album, available March 18, 2020, is Palmer’s second release from Jimmy Katz’s Giant Step Arts, a groundbreaking, artist-focused non-profit with a single mission: to help modern jazz innovators create their art free of commercial pressure
“Giant Step Arts [is] a nonprofit dedicated to giving underappreciated but visionary jazz musicians the support they need to make quality live albums. Palmer is a…thrifty improviser with a vast dynamic range and an ambitious composer.” – Giovanno Russonello, The New York Times
Sometime during the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, a pair of thieves entered Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum disguised as police officers, exiting 81 minutes later with 13 works of art by some of the greatest painters of all time. Three decades later, the frames that once held those artworks still hang empty. The still unsolved heist remains the biggest art theft in the history of the world.
Trumpeter and composer Jason Palmer has been fascinated by this remarkable mystery since he moved to Boston in 1997 to study at New England Conservatory. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the theft, and in part to shine a renewed spotlight on the crime in the hopes of unearthing some clue to the artworks’ whereabouts, Palmer composed his brilliant new suite dedicated to the missing pieces.
Palmer’s dozen compositions, one for each piece stolen (a pair of related Degas sketches are combined in one homage), ignite masterful performances by the composer’s outstanding ensemble, featuring influential saxophonist Mark Turner along with rapidly rising star Joel Ross on vibraphone, drummer Kendrick Scott and bassist Edward Perez.
The album was recorded last May during a unique performance in the breathtaking Harold S. Vanderbilt Penthouse of the InterContinental New York Barclay, generously donated by the hotel for this occasion. On March 18, 2020, the results of that magical night will be released as The Concert: 12 Musings for Isabella, thanks to the groundbreaking non-profit Giant Step Arts led by noted photographer and recording engineer Jimmy Katz. Katz founded Giant Step Arts to create such once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for artists, freeing them from the usual demands of record label and sales chart expectations.
The Concert marks Palmer’s second outing via Giant Step Arts. His highly-acclaimed Rhyme and Reason was the inaugural release for Katz’s fledgling organization. “I’m really fortunate to work with Jimmy,” Palmer says. “It’s the first time I’ve released music myself, so I’m learning so much about how that works, and I’ve sold a lot more records than I ever thought I would.”
The audacious heist at the Gardner Museum, which included works valued at more than $500 million by artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Manet, and Degas, is a captivating story on its own. But in the disappearance of this priceless art, Palmer discovered a metaphor for the lack of respect for art and creativity in the modern world. “I found a congruence between the idea of these specific works being physically lost and art in general not being appreciated in society,” he explained. “I think there’s some kind of celestial relationship between making music inspired by works that are lost in hopes of having the art that I produce not be so lost on society.”
Palmer’s compositions take myriad approaches to translating the missing works into music. Working from images of the stolen art, he drew inspiration for some of the pieces from the content of the source material. “Christ in a Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” for instance, responds to Rembrandt’s painting of a tempest-tossed voyage with a rollicking, turbulent 15/8 groove. The same artist’s shadow-shrouded “A Lady and Gentleman in Black” spurred him to concoct a raucously funky melody using only the black keys of the piano.
Others inspired a more abstract approach, such as “An Ancient Chinese Gu,” taken from a bronze vessel used to drink wine during rituals in the Shang and Zhou dynasties. The gu’s flaring, trumpet-like mouth evoked a clarion horn melody, inflected by a melody inspired by Chinese folk traditions in reference to the object’s provenance.
|Brand||Giant Step Arts|
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