Rosalinda Kolb’s “Jazz Portrait Series”

February 13th, 2023

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Rosalinda Kolb’s portrait of pianist Hampton Hawes

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…..While the Internet has seemingly become the place to ingest the absurd daily tweets of surly politicians, 12 second videos of celebrity self-aggrandizement, and pop-up ads for discount drones and toenail fungus ointment, if you dig deep you can still discover meaningful, soulful content.

…..Here’s an example…

…..Last week I was directed to a website that is filled with creative energy and spirit that uniquely connects viewers to the soul, inner beauty, and complexity of jazz musicians.

…..The Santa Fe, New Mexico-based artist Rosalinda Kolb’s works portray a variety of lovely subjects and themes.  Her “Jazz Portraits Series” sensitively honors jazz artists who share the common challenge of life struggles – particularly with substance abuse – and her dreamy work reveals their pain and vulnerabilities.

…..As the love of saxophonist Frank Morgan’s life until his death in 2007, Ms. Kolb created her “Jazz Portrait Series” as a way of “coping with the steep and rocky path” down which she was headed.  (Morgan spent much of his life prior to 1986 in-and-out of prison due to his heroin addiction).  The eleven-drawing series includes a portrait of Hampton Hawes, the brilliant Los Angeles-based pianist who struggled for many years with heroin addiction.

…..Ms. Kolb writes that the series “was born during the infancy of my thirty year saga with Frank Morgan. The initial seven years were largely spent visiting every correctional facility in Southern California.  I was allowed to carry a portfolio containing my new portrait of Hampton Hawes into the  Wayside Honor Rancho detention center. ”

…..“That’s HIM!” Morgan exclaimed when he saw the portrait.

…..The day of Morgan’s much anticipated New York debut at the Village Vanguard in December of 1986, spearheading his sensational comeback after thirty years circulating through the California penal system, he told Ms. Kolb: “Hampton Hawes was the funniest man I ever met. Junkie to the core. Hamp was the last man should’ve been in prison, but then, weren’t we all?”

…..“Why is this portrayal of the ‘funniest man’ a work of mourning?” Ms. Kolb asks.  Because “so many bright burning souls were brutalized by a racist society, the penal system and lethal means of escape.  And, what gives this series its peculiar depth of intensity…is pain.”

…..The Jazz Portrait Series is composed of eleven original drawings plus three never-before-published (of Billie Holiday, Horace Tapscott and McCoy Tyner).   She indicates she’d  consider donating these pieces to a legitimate institution that would assume stewardship in perpetuity.  .

…..Three of the personages (Monk, Mingus and Coltrane) were published as educational, eighteen by twenty-four inch posters, and are “yours for the asking.”  Her vivid state-of-the-art archival prints of her portraits are available in various sizes.

…..Click here to visit her website, and here to view the entire “Jazz Portrait Series.”  It’s a soul-enriching, meaningful experience…

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(Ms. Kolb’s portrait of Bud Powell was recently featured on Jerry Jazz Musician with John Menaghan’s poem “Out Walks Bud,” and “John Coltrane” is shown below)

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“John Coltrane,” by Rosalinda Kolb

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Rosalinda Kolb is a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based artist whose work  is treasured in corporate and private collections.  Upon completing her Master Of Fine Art program at the School Of The Art Institute Of Chicago in 1976, she met the saxophonist Frank Morgan, and her life completely jumped the tracks. Her “Jazz Portrait Series,” which includes many similarly problematic personalities, was a manner of coping with the steep and rocky path down which she was headed.  She was spiritually married to Mr. Morgan until his death in 2007. 

Click here to visit her website

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Rosalinda Kolb’s book Leave ‘Em Hungry: A Love Story and Cautionary Tale is about her three decade life with Frank Morgan, a story that might be best explained by a line from Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It, which states that: “We may love completely without complete understanding.”

Click here to view the book on Amazon.com

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Watch a 1991 video of Frank Morgan playing “Lullaby,” with George Cables (piano); Andy Simpkins (bass); and Albert “Tootie” Heath (drums).

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