Multiple Grammy Award-Winning Artist Ted Nash enjoys an extraordinary career as a performer, conductor, composer, arranger and educator. Nash has an uncanny ability to mix freedom with substance, blues with intellect, and risk-taking with clarity.
Born in Los Angeles, Nash’s interest in music started at an early age, exposed to music and encouraged by his father, trombonist Dick Nash, and uncle, reedman Ted Nash, both well-known studio and jazz musicians. Nash blossomed early, a “young lion” before the term became marketing vernacular. Nash’s first gig came when he was only sixteen, playing with legendary vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. Soon after, he won an audition to play lead alto with the Quincy Jones band, and by seventeen he had toured Europe, appeared on three records, and was performing regularly with the likes of Don Ellis, Louie Bellson and Toshiko Akiyoshi, as well as with his own quintet.
Nash came to New York at the age of eighteen and soon after released his first album as a leader, Conception (Concord Jazz). During his first three years in New York he became a regular member of the Gerry Mulligan Big Band, the National Jazz Ensemble, and the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, the latter an association that would last for nine years.
One of Nash’s most important associations is with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Portrait in Seven Shades, commissioned and recorded by the JLCO was credited by Ted Panken in Downbeat Magazine as marking a new direction for the orchestra. For this work Nash received his first Grammy nomination as best arranger.
Marsalis says of Nash: “He plays, on a virtuosic level, all of the reed instruments. He plays them all perfectly in tune, and has a personality on each one that’s different. And he can read music unbelievable well.”
Nash’s work often addresses and embraces themes of cultural and social importance. He grew up in a household of open-mindedness and social awareness – Nash’s parents, in addition to being wonderful musicians, were civil rights activists whose work helped improve the lives of so many people. Nash’s Grammy winning recording, Presidential Suite, reflects Nash’s own interest in human rights and freedom. Receiving two Grammy Awards in 2017, Presidential Suite is one of Nash’s most significant work. Inspired by great political speeches of the 20th century dealing with the theme of freedom, it is rich with social and political awareness. It also involved a very creative approach: Nash transcribed the speeches for their actual musical pitches and created themes, placing them into contexts that embraced the speakers and the location and era of the speeches. The recording garnered great national press. Writes Downbeat Magazine: “During an election cycle in which political oratory is often delivered via Twitter and sound bites, Ted Nash’s Presidential Suite…is refreshing both in premise and execution. Jubilant… forceful…striking.”
In 2017 Nash received the Composer of the Year award by the Jazz Journalists Association.