Monday, February 14, 2011

Jazz Signature Quilt and Yarn Bombing

Jazz and Quilts 
Have a Lot in Common!

Scanned art by KarenQuilt: 100% cotton and the
found "skeleton" of a leaf.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

The artists of both forms 
know how to incorporate "soul" 
into their work!

Dindga McCannon's "A Tribute to Charlie Parker" from Textural Rhythms: Quilting the Jazz Tradition by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi.

See one of Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi's jazz and quilts exhibit here. You will need to scroll about half-way down the page to see some of the quilts.

Click here to visit Carolyn's website to order one of her books.

Our First Jazz Cruise!

Just back from our first Jazz Cruise. What a fabulous experience! It was unlike any other jazz event I have ever attended with Gary. It wins hands down as the kind of venue in which I can enjoy experiencing jazz. 

Some of the members of the marvelous Clayton Brothers Quintet. L-R: Terrel Stafford, Jeff Clayton, and Gerald Clayton at piano.  Missing from the photo are bassist John Clayton and drummer Obed.

Below are signatures on fabric from the Clayton Brothers Quintet. Love the way John Clayton and the drummer added a little icon with their signature!

Their most recent recordings were nominated for Grammy awards for best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group "Brother to Brother" (artistShare, 2009).

Here's John Clayton playing with Diana Krall and another link to one of his jazz workshops.

I am not a hard core jazz fan. It's weird, but I have seldom had any music on in my office the past 10 years. I'm not quite sure why that is.

And I can't sit and listen to live jazz for more than one set at a club without getting restlesss...until now!! I have discovered the secret for me....having needlework in my hands.

Dark jazz clubs and concert halls do not readily lend themselves to executing needlework. The eye strain is terrible.

Love the saxaphone! L-R: Grant Stewart, Harry Allen, Ken Peplowski. All I can says is WOW!
Ken is also a wicked comic!! 

Then came The Jazz Cruise, which changed my whole experience of jazz!

I now know that if my hands are engaged, I can sit through set after set! In fact, the needlework actually helps me concentrate on the music!

Remember the small quilt (above) I told you about that I rushed to put together to take on the trip from already cut and sewn scraps someone had given me?

I thought I was preparing a "doll" quilt to embroider while cruising, but once I started stitching on the ship, I realized it was really meant to be a small signature quilt for the musicians to sign!

And the more I looked at it, the more the "story" this little quilt wanted to tell began to come to me.

There are two pillars, one on either side of the central medallion which contains the original "flame" of jazz....THE HUMAN SOUL, if you will......THE PURE LOVE OF MUSIC AT THE HEART OF ALL who have the ear to hear!

The two pillars represent the incredible confluence of African rhythms --and its call and response-- with that of Western classical music. The checkerboard effect of these scraps represent (to me) how these two musical streams have experienced a long evolving journey through human history. The spark this confluence of musical streams ignited has evolves endlessly, just like our quilt art does!

So many wonderful musicians! 
And because of the venue, you actually get to talk with them one-on-one!

We were once again privileged to hear Freddy Cole --brother of Nat King Cole-- and to meet him in person this time...

as well as meet George Wein --founder of the Newport Jazz Festival. What an honor to have both sign my little quilt!

....Plus all but 2 of the female musicians and/or singers, including the marvelous Grammy winning Janis Siegel (who was there with her own Quartet) signed. Of course Janis is still singing with the original Manhattan Transfer group as well --going on 31 years now!  Manhattan Transfer is one of my all-time favorite singing groups. I first heard them while living in New Orleans in the 80s. The concert was outdoors at Audubon Park next to the zoo. I asked Janis if they knew ahead of time they were going to be riding elephants onto the concert grounds ---or was it a last minute surprise the organizers pulled on them?!! It was pretty much last minute surprise, she said, that they decided to go along with. I have to say as an audience participant, it was a pretty darn exciting entrance!!!

Janis was intrigued with the idea of a signature quilt when she went to sign it. Unfortunately, I had left my camera in the cabin the first four days of the cruise so I never got any photos of her. You can hear a song and see her here.

Talk About a Beautiful Soul!

I also heard Nnenna Freelon perform for the first time. Yes, you read right. It's spelled Nnenna.  Click here to read about her on Wickipedia.

Nnenna Freelon - WOW! What an incredible human being!
If you like jazz at all, you may have already heard of Nnenna. I haven't kept up with current jazz artists so she was new to me.  WOW!  Just click here and here to see some of her performances on YouTube. Once you go to the first one, more will come up on the right side of your screen. She is well worth a "visit".

Nnenna Freelon, nominated for 6 Grammys, has a huge heart for arts education and loves talking about parenting. When she signed my little quilt she exclaimed, "Oh, a quilt! Don't people sometimes make quilts out of people'sclothes? My sister and I want to do something with our Mama's clothes but we don't want to just give them all to Goodwill. Maybe we could make a quilt!" 

I told her I would be happy to connect her with someone who could help her get such a quilt made and that I could also help her document any quilts her mother or grandmother had made. Her eyes lit up and she asked if I had a card. I did! I hope she finds  time in her busy schedule to contact me or find someone else who might help her to realize this dream of a quilt made of her mother's clothes.

I also shared with almost a dozen women on the cruise about Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, the Women of Color Quilt Network, Kyra Hicks and Cuesta Benberry.  You can read my tribute to Cuesta at her passing here. The transcript of Faith Ringgold's interview of Cuesta is here.

Two More Incredible Women Artists in the Field of Jazz New to me.

Italian Ada Rovatti (left) and Israeli Anat Cohen (right).

 See Anat on Wiki here.  Ada Rovatti  plays with the Randy Brecker Quintet.

Bucky Pizzerlli and his son John are two of our favorite guitarists. Bucky was on the cruise this year. John Pizzerelli will be on the cruise next year!

Bucky Pizarelli above

Our lovely dinner companions for the week of the cruise!

Are you still in the mood for more color?

Have you heard about YARN BOMBING? I learned about it from a British gentleman on the cruise. He told me about it after he saw me stitching on my small quilt.

Take a peek at their blog. Some call it "stitching graffiti". Wikipedia even has an article about it. Click here to see it. Here are some marvelous photos of what knitters and crocherts are doing to spiff up public places as well as a talented fiber artist. It's a hoot and is spreading around the world!!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Finland's capitol is taken over by the Yarn Bombers  -

click here to see more photos from Finland.

Update from England

HAVING A GREAT YARN about Galway’s Biggest Coffee Morning are (l-r): Helen Jennings, Mary Somers, Aoife Burke, MaryJo Curran and Sandra Morrissey. These ladies are all part of the Athenry Craft and Chat group and they created this fantastic ‘Tractor Yarn Bomb’ to raise funds for Galway Hospice! Galway’s Biggest Coffee Morning will take place on Thursday next, September 20th, sponsored by Bewleys, in aid of Galway Hospice. You can still register as a Coffee Morning Host by contacting Galway Hospice, or you can register on-line at

The ‘Tractor Yarn Bomb’ can be seen at the Eyrecourt Agricultural Show this Saturday 15th September, where the public will have an opportunity to view this fantastic work of art, and all donations on the day will go to Galway Hospice! Photo courtesy of Joe Travers Photography. — with Sandra Morrissey.

And a motorcycle!  Is there anything they won't cover with yarn?

And a bit of humor to close with....

Karen in the Islands

PS: Gary's jazz radio program --JoySpring of Jazz-- streams live on Mondays and Friday at 3-5:30pm PST or 6pm EST on KLOI Lopez Island. Click here to find the live streaming link and listen via your computer. He also does a classical program!

PPS: My sweet husband fixed the most fantastic meal for me last night and did it ALL by himself! This was my Valentine surprise gift. His preparing a complete dinner is a rare event in 43 years of marriage. Who says an old dog can't learn new tricks!


  1. I have heard of Yarn Bombing ... but, it was just randomness in trees! cool stuff!
    ~ thanks so much for sharing, i'm finding your blog very inspirational and helpful ...

    Yes, 'we' are just starting our little research project - it was quite addictive! - i just need to find the time to relocate my notes and continue posting! ... we hope to learn more about Shirley's amazing find! When she shared the blocks and her completion of the quilt we pondered for several meetings the history and why it was not finished.
    From my research, we THINK it was that the person we think it is for, married and moved away ... we are sad it was never completed for her. We wondered if a Tornado played a part in the quilt taking a 'back burner' ... who knows?
    thanks so much for stopping in, and your helpful information!
    We are curious to learn more!

  2. Starting your own blog about the collaborative research you are doing with Shirley on this Signature quilt is very exciting! Come back and give us an update sometime!