The music I’ve recorded for this CD comes from my Jazz Theater show The Blues Ain’t a Color, and was made possible by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. In this show, and in many other jazz theater shows I’ve performed over the years, I strive to bring the element of jazz improvisation music to my theater pieces blending the two artistic disciplines into one story then creating a new space for jazz and theater to meet and form new artistic exchanges.
Jazz, in my view has lost a connection to “the street.” I am showing that this music can and should be connected to give the music a context. The visual elements and video in my shows can also leave an audience with a visual of the song. In a theater setting, it drives home the point of the song, making the emotional connection to story. Jazz and blues music is connected to human situations and emotions. We are relating to what is happening on the stage, as current event material, therefore we are expanding the community relationship to jazz, and in this show blending jazz and blues coming together as community to have shared experiences with the music. The jazz is not distant and difficult to relate to, it is instead directly related to social and cultural issues of interest to the theater going audience. Many of the jazz standards of our time came from the musical theater stage. The Blues Ain’t a Color continues this tradition.
The rich, vibrant history of jazz and the blues intertwines with America's troubled history with bigotry, greed and ignorance in Denise La Grassa' jazz musical project. Backed by a trio of jazz musicians, La Grassa mixes powerhouse renditions of original jazz and blues songs mixed with poignant dialogue delivered by an array of different characters. Both funny and heartbreaking, The Blues Ain't A Color uses the power of music to shine a light on how we're dealing with, and in some cases, not dealing with, racism, compassion, and dignity in our country.
The video above is a sample of a performance at Chicago's Theater Wit with John Kregor (guitar), Dan Thatcher (bass), and Bob Parlier (drums).