A Lifetime of Listening to Jazz
Drue's first exposure to jazz was appropriately—late at night. As a child in Tokyo, she often drifted to sleep listening to her father playing jazz recordings from his vast collection. Her earliest memories of jazz are the melodies that he whistled to her in the darkness. In true oral tradition, he was passing on the love of music he had inherited from his mother. Long before the era of the iPod, Drue's grandmother had something very remarkable in pre-war Japan, — a collection of her very own jazz records.
Mentored by Wynton Marsalis
In high school Drue had the opportunity to meet and play for Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Wynton Marsalis [portrait]. After one of his concerts, he challenged her to "go get her horn, and play." We have a virtuoso in here," he told saxophonist Wes "WarmDaddy" Anderson. From that moment Marsalis became a great mentor to Drue. Their numerous collaborations began shortly thereafter. In the Spring of that year, Drue played in the main tent at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with the Kent Jordan quartet. She was invited to have her national artistic debut in New Orleans in early Fall. The great success of her debut and exhibition was marked by a special proclamation of artistic appreciation from New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial.
Witness to Jazz Legends
During Drue's collaborations with Jazz at Lincoln Center, she has had the chance to observe, work with, paint and study some of the greatest jazz musicians of the 20th century in New York, New Orleans, and on the road. "I've watched up close the soft breath on the rim of their horns. I've witnessed the wisp of an idea as a riff is plucked from midair, not to be recreated again, like a Sumi-e stroke." Over the past two decades Drue has internalized every aspect of the jazz experience backstage, onstage and off. Marsalis personally introduced Drue to many legendary musicians including Jazz Giant Lionel Hampton at a private reception held by Mayor Morial. Drue has also had access to some of the greatest creative forces in Jazz cultural circles. "It's been my great fortune to have interacted and corresponded with Jazz Writer/Historian Albert Murray, contemporary and colleague of writer Ralph Ellison. Whenever I speak to Murray I'm captivated by the way he brings the spirit of his close friends Duke Ellington, Count Basie and so many other cats to life." Miles from Murray's Harlem flat on the East Coast all the way to Hubert Laws sunny Hollywood mansion on the West Coast, Drue's jammed there too.
High Profile Jazz Commissions
For his 8 part Swinging into the 21st Century Series, Sony Classic and Columbia Records commissioned an original suite of paintings and cover art work for Wynton Marsalis' landmark work, A Fiddler's Taleand a logo for the 8-CD series. Later, Drue was commissioned by law firm Jones Day to paint Marsalis' portrait for a limited edition print and fundraiser for the Legal Aid Society entitled Wynton Marsalis Courtin' the Blues. Drue has been commissioned by jazz musicians and jazz connoisseurs alike including trombone virtuoso Wycliffe PineCone Gordon and bassist extraordinaire Roland Guerin. In addition, her original works are in private collections in New York, New Orleans and the Bay Area. Drue has been interviewed about her jazz paintings on WWOZ Radio, Live at Louis Armstrong Park and on KCSM 91.1, the Bay Area's Jazz Station.