Jazz Musicians & Poetraits Paint Portraits

Fusion is the latest trend in NOLA arts. Cafe Istanbul hosts “Poetraits of Sound” Tuesday (11.18) night at 6p.m. The Joe van Leeuwen Quintet will be teaming up with local artist Tony Hollums to combine contemporary jazz with abstract painting.  


Jazz drummer Joe van Leeuwen recently arrived in New Orleans after studying music in Virginia.  “The big thing that changed in music for the last twenty years or so is the proliferation of odd time signatures,” van Leeuwen, a native of Rochester, New York, explains inside the Fatoush Restaurant.  “There’s a lot of territory that’s yet to be explored writing songs in five plus four over eight or just metrically things that are irregular and seeing what kind of emotional colors you can get out of that.”


The band has recently expanded from the trio of van Leeuwen, guitarist Alex D’Onofrio and bass player Nick Benoit to include Reverend Yogi on sax and Ben Batalia behind the piano.  “We got a lot of work that we do in odd time,” van Lueewan says. “It’s going to be concert of mostly original music written by me” with sections of improvisation by the other musicians. Tony Hollums will try to paint simultaneously to the music.  “For me, this is going to be a little different because my stuff usually takes, like, 20 hours,” Hollums says. “So now I’m going to try and take a different approach to do it. It will be a neat challenge to try to combine a drawing style with a live band.”  Recordings and painting will be available for sale after the show.


Hollums was a musician and sound engineer himself before changing to visual art. Joe van Leeuwen and the rest of his band discovered the artist’s work while browsing the Frenchmen Art Market. “I used to use sound directly where I’d have a secondary bass amp and then use the actual bass amp to move ink around on canvas,” Hollums remembers. For Tuesday’s show he plans “ to be changing materials to watered-down acrylics so they dry fast” in addition to giving up his ink pens for broad brushes. “The music changes whatever composition I’m going for,”  Hollums observes. “I only do what I know – and that’s sound.”  


For Cafe Istanbul’s Chuck Perkins giving the young artist and musicians a platform is just a regular day. “We wanted Cafe Istanbul to be an all-inclusive space.  I envision it as being the kind of place where we get the best musicians in New Orleans to play here on occasion, and have some guys who just are getting it to work out.”  Perkins points out that while he thought the club inside the New Orleans Healing Center would be only music, he regular does movies, comedy, drag shows, and special events.  Young artists and musician regular debut inside his space. “I want to leave some room for the guys who are just getting started.” 

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