This June is the 30th anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Every year they produce a nice program that's full of illustrations; there are portraits of each performer and a few feature articles. This year Fred Fehlau, the AD for the program asked me to do a piece to accompany an article about the history of the festival. So I filled the stage with a group of musicians who've played there. From left to right there's Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, Wynton Marsalis, Stan Getz, Benny Goodman, Ron Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, BB King, Art Blakey and Miles Davis. Fred asked me to include Hefner, festival MC Bill Cosby, and producer George Wein in the crowd.
Fred also asked me to do a portrait of the trumpet player Roy Hargrove. While looking around online for photos I came across this wonderful picture of Roy taken by Eddy Westveer, a jazz photographer who lives and works in the Netherlands. I e-mailed him to get permission to use the photo as reference for my drawing and offered him a fee. The photo supplied such a nice vibe, the drawing was finished easily and very quickly.
I've done the cover for the program three times. Fred asks for comp ideas, and that really means do a finish and if Hefner likes it, it gets used. Hefner has picked mine three times, yet still no invitation to the mansion.
Las year I did this drawing of composer and trumpter Terence Blanchard. Terence is from New Orleans and has written film scores for a lot of Spike Lee's films. I was listening to his score for Lee's documentary "When The Levees Broke" while I worked on this drawing
I've done portraits of musicians every year since 1986. Here's Cosby, Tony Bennett, Joshua Redman, Elvin Jones, Ray Charles, and Miles Davis.
Here's a sample of some of the fantastic work by a few of the illustrators that I admire from past years. Mel Torme by Robert Risko, Hefner by Al Hirschfeld, Wynton Marsalis by Jeffrey Decoster, Kenny Garret by Calef Brown, Cassandra Wilson by Ann Field, Buddy Guy by the legendary Jeff Smith, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland & Brian Blade by Chris Pyle, Dr, John by Brad Weinman, and Femi Anikulapo-Kuti by Jason Holley.
Dear illustration community:
Please no more fuckin' illustrations of fuckin' blokes in fuckin' shades playing fuckin' brass instruments. That shite is soooooooooo fuckin' boring.
Peter CusackMay 20, 2008
This is such a great showcase for your work. Your image is so alive. Thanks for this post . . . It's filled with the finest work and inspiration.
Kyle T. WebsterMay 20, 2008
as a fan of your work for many years, I just want to post and say that I am once again humbled and inspired by another one of your pieces. What a triumph of design.
Robert SaundersMay 20, 2008
Love this stuff, Paul. You're great at it. I love your focus on jazz. Jazz musicians seem to me appropriate subjects for visual artists, because their prodigious skills, devotion to the form, unglamorous lifestyles make them quintessentially artistic...they are poets and composers. Spiritually (as well as statistically) they are rare birds. There's no "glut" of depictions of jazz musicians in our society; far from it.
If there's sometimes a tendency to react emotionally to jazz subject matter in the visual arts it can be because one has little knowlege about it, neglects the race issues, or views it as the "other", having not actively listened to the intricacies or complexities of the form. There is stereotypical thinking: "you seen one, you seen them all." Which is nuts, because we repeatedly see paintings of presidents, politicians, celebrities, authors, and nobody says "If I have to look at another politician (or president)...". But in any case I suggest that if one is ignorant of a subject under discussion, best not to flout it in public. Might as well just say, "Hey, look at me, I'm stupid."
Jason CrosbyMay 20, 2008
Love, love, LOVE 'EM! The scene and portrait are GREAT!
Doug FraserMay 20, 2008
The Terence Blanchard piece is wonderful. I really enjoy the way you drew the figure. Paul, the finish you bring to your work is inspiring. Your range of execution and structure has really developed over your career.
Alan WitschonkeMay 21, 2008
This is gorgeous work. You have a wonderful line quality and color sense in these. I like them grouped together as in the PDF portraits. I feel like I've seen these before. Were they postage stamps? They should be.
I did an interior portrait for Fred of Stix Hooper one year. (It's in the Portraits section of my Drawger site). Fred was great to work with and it was a dream assignment because I've been a huge jazz fan for over 30 years. Playboy's readership may not be the most knowledgeable about jazz music based on their past Poll Winner selections, (Paul McCartney won best jazz bassist one year!), but any organization that supports jazz is OK with me.