2-time Grammy winning saxophonist, arranger, conductor, educator and composer Ted Nash joins the show for the first time!
Born in Los Angeles into a musical family (his father, trombonist Dick Nash, and uncle, the late saxophonist Ted Nash, were both well-known jazz and studio musicians), Nash started playing piano at the age of 7 before learning the clarinet at 12 and the alto sax at 13. As a high-school student, he studied jazz improvisation with vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake and got his first real break when, at 16, he was hired by Lionel Hampton for a one-week gig in Hawaii. By the time he reached 17, Nash had played lead alto for Quincy Jones’ band and was performing regularly with the bands of Louie Bellson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Don Ellis. After turning 18 in 1978, Nash recorded his first date as a leader, Conception, for Concord Jazz and made a permanent move to New York (where he soon became a member of the Gerry Mulligan Big Band). In the 1980s, he was featured as a sideman on albums by Shoemake and Shelly Manne before joining the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra and working as a both a soloist and arranger for that unit. The 1990s found him leading his own quartet and working as a sideman for Louie Bellson, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Lovano, and bassist Ben Allison, who also hired Nash for the Herbie Nichols Project, a band dedicated to interpreting the music of the pianist Herbie Nichols. In the 1990s, Nash recorded as a leader for Mapleshade and the French Elabeth label. After the turn of the millennium he has recorded as both a leader and sideman for Palmetto.
His recordings have received wide critical acclaim, appearing on the “best-of” lists in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, and The Boston Globe. Portrait in Seven Shades, his first big band recording, garnered two Grammy nominations. His following big band album, Chakra, received critical acclaim and charted on Billboard.
Receiving two Grammy® Awards, Presidential Suite is Nash’s most significant work. Inspired by great political speeches of the 20th century dealing with the theme of freedom, it is rich with social and political awareness. Nash transcribed the speeches for their actual musical pitches and created themes, placing them into contexts that embraced the speakers and the location and era of the speeches. For the recording, each track is introduced by an excerpt from the speech that inspired it, read by significant figures from the world of entertainment, politics and sports, including actors Glenn Close and Sam Waterston; Ambassador Andrew Young; Senator Joe Lieberman; authors Deepak Chopra and Douglas Brinkley; diplomats William vanden Heuvel and David Miliband.
He is a co-founder of the New York-based Jazz Composers Collective, a musician-run, non-profit entity dedicated to presenting the original works of composers pushing the boundaries of their self-expression. Nash is also a long-standing member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, with Wynton Marsalis.
His latest album is the “Ted Nash Quintet Live at Dizzy’s” released 2018 with Warren Wolf, Gary Versace, Rufus Reid and Matt Wilson.
We talk about his musical development from young, developing his writing, his remarkable playing career with people such as Lionel Hampton, Wynton Marsalis and Mel Lewis, his double Grammy Award-winning work Presidential Suite, his latest album “Ted Nash Quintet Live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola” and much, much more!