Trumpet player and composer Josh Lawrence has been exploring the idea of musical color. Linking colors with sounds is as old as the blues — older really. People have long sought ways to describe the manner in which music takes shape in their minds, and the language of visual art, texture, tone, contrast and contour all help to visualize something that is invisible.
Lawrence’s ensemble is called Color Theory and they released a record by that title last year. The music explores the whole spectrum, with moods shifting from somber and pensive to energetic and coiled. All of the primary and secondary colors are represented in terms of titles at least. One can see the relationships between hues that compliment each other and musical harmonies that are soothing or more jarring.
A listener might zero in on the music trying to pinpoint the ways that the coloristic framework helps to open up one’s conception of the songs, and soon one starts to hear the phrases as visual lines, with a movement and flow that evokes a drawing.
The compositions of Wayne Shorter and Ornette Coleman suggest themselves as sources of inspiration for Lawrence and his ensemble, but, visually, Lawrence and his ensemble used a series of color studies by the nonrepresentational painter Kandinsky as jumping-off points.
Josh Lawrence and Color Theory perform at Gordon Hall, Music Mountain, Falls Village, Saturday, Aug. 18, 6:30 p.m. $30. musicmountain.org.