Diminished Scale

I’m still somewhat in a daze after the death of my mother.  The veil between life on earth and the afterlife still seems thin.  It’s a time of growth, contemplation and reconnection.  So much love is available to me through my friends and family that I am unable to write clearly about it.  I spent a week in Memphis where I’m from and where my mom spent her entire life.  Everything flowed together like a golden river — grief, affirmation, and growth. 

I got back home to Portland, Or,  the day before Valentine’s day, which is my wedding anniversary — 3 years and still on our honeymoon.  My husband was so great — he had vacuumed and cleaned the apartment, bought flowers and made himself available to my every need.  We had a subdued celebration of our love with moments spent honoring my mother.

 It happens that the Portland Jazz Festival occurs in February, so we went to see an interview/masterclass with pianist Barry Harris last night.  I sketched while he talked and realized it’d been almost 2 weeks since I’d done any drawings from life.

I decided to post this sketch of Mr Harris for Paint Party Friday as my work in progress — my sketchbook, which will never be more than a work in progress.

Mr. Harris is 84 now, slightly stooped from age, but exudes an ephemeral strength.  He’s a kind and forthright teacher, with a great love of  jazz.  He said it hurts him when he goes to other countries and sees musicians that sound better than Americans — “Jazz is our music.”  We should always be the best — this was his way of urging students to practice, practice and learn the standards.  He was very clear that musicians, even if they weren’t accompanying a singer, should know the lyrics so they know more meanings of the songs. 

I usually don’t post my quick sketches of people because I worry that I don’t capture them accurately.  But this week I am not so much concerned with accuracy as I am with energy, and in this pencil sketch, I like the energy.  Barry Harris has such elegant hands but they look rough in this sketch because he moved them all the time, as if he was plucking music and meaning out of the air.  I hope I captured that energy.

I didn’t get my favorite quote on this sketch:

“The diminished scale is the world.”

In the diminished scale the music is more alive — that was such a good thing to hear when my life seems diminished by a loss and yet more lyrical for having honored that loss.

Let me know what you think.

Barry Harris – The diminished scale IS the world

Go to Paint Party Friday for links to a whole world of art created in the past week.