Ted Nash: The Mancini Project On JazzSet

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Ted Nash i i

Ted Nash grew up with Henry Mancini's music: His father and uncle played in the jazz composer's studio orchestras. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artist
Ted Nash

Ted Nash grew up with Henry Mancini's music: His father and uncle played in the jazz composer's studio orchestras.

Courtesy of the artist
Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's i i

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) glances into a window display in Breakfast at Tiffany's, a film for which Henry Mancini composed the theme. Hear Ted Nash's quartet play the theme above. Paramount Pictures/Hulton Archive hide caption

itoggle caption Paramount Pictures/Hulton Archive
Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) glances into a window display in Breakfast at Tiffany's, a film for which Henry Mancini composed the theme. Hear Ted Nash's quartet play the theme above.

Paramount Pictures/Hulton Archive

Set List

"Night Visitor"

"Two for the Road"

"Soldier in the Rain" (excerpt)

"The Party"

"Lujon" (a.k.a. Slow Hot Wind)

"Dreamsville"

All music by Henry Mancini.

Personnel

Ted Nash; tenor sax, flute and alto sax

Frank Kimbrough, piano

Ben Allison, bass

Matt Wilson, drums

From the 1950s through the 1980s, composer Henry Mancini (born April 16, 1924) collected his Oscars and Grammys up to five at a time. Ted Nash, born into a family of musicians in Los Angeles, takes his turn with this music on his CD, The Mancini Project.

Remember TV's Peter Gunn, with the detective whose girlfriend sang jazz at an L.A. dive called Mother's? How about the Pink Panther, about a suave jewel thief and an inept French detective? Their music was an innovation, as hip and stylish as the characters.

Those jazzy Mancini themes come from laid-back southern California. They are cool and mysterious, while here in Detroit — home to a free, downtown Labor Day weekend festival for 30 years — jazz has been the soundtrack to a way of life that's gritty in comparison. The key to both styles is playing with emotion.

When saxophonist Ted Nash of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra plays Mancini, he does it with pride because his dad and uncle were members of Mancini's studio orchestras in Hollywood.

"The first time I ever realized that I loved music so much, I was listening to the Pink Panther theme," Nash says. "At the very end, you hear this big brass chord," which Nash demonstrates vocally by plunging through three ranges. At the bottom, he grins and says, "That's my dad right there: Dick Nash."

"Two for the Road" was Mancini's own favorite song. Nash plays the "Soldier in the Rain" melody on flute, Mancini's instrument. "The Party" is the theme to a politically incorrect, "mod" comedy that — like Pink Panther -– starred Peter Sellers.

When Nash was in his 20s, writing his first orchestrations, he borrowed a Henry Mancini how-to book. Nash still remembers Audio Example 67, the trombone pad, and the advisory on the printed page:

"'Note the beautiful wistful alto solo by Ted Nash.' So I did," Nash says. "When my uncle finished that eight bars, I was in tears. It was the first time that I was connected to him and the subtlety of his emotion. I've tried to play this bridge like him for so many years, and I've never quite done it. It's him, not me."

It's the bridge on "Dreamsville," closing this JazzSet.

Only two degrees separate young Ted Nash and the great Henry Mancini. It's no wonder that Nash can reduce the scale to a quartet and keep the romance.

Credits: Thanks to Terri Pontremoli, Executive and Artistic Director of the Detroit International Jazz Festival. Recordings by Timothy Powell of Metro Mobile. Surround Sound mix by Duke Markos.

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