I ignite clarity in all. A window to the Art of Chuck Todd

Jazz Greats: Duke Ellington, Louie Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus and Chick Webb

Jazz Greats: Duke Ellington, Louie Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, Chick Webb created as an illustration for LeapFrog by Chuck Todd. (Pencil, Watercolor and Acrylic.)

In honor of Smithsonian’s Jazz Appreciation Month in April my friend Ed Peaco just posted on his blog about one of Duke Ellington’s works. “Harlem Air Shaft.” It inspired me to share this fun piece I did a few years back for LeapFrog.

You should check out Ed’s post: http://edpeaco.blogspot.com/2011/04/can-you-hear-smell-of-dried-fish.html

I created this several years back for a Chicago design firm for their client LeapFrog. LeapFrog does interactive, fun and educational products for kids. This was for an interactive kids magazine. Using the LeapFrog reader kids could use a stylus and click on different images on the pages and hear information on each musician. They could click on each piano key and play music.  In the yellow area of the mural the music and lyrics of “When the Saints Go Marching In”  it would enable the kids to select the music and hear it…or play the notes, etc.

In my rough sketch all of the jazz musicians in the composition were completely different characters and fictitious…with a variety of instruments. The mural idea was part of the assignment with the family dancing in the foreground. I added the concept of the mural itself being in the process of being painted.

After submitting my composition, the design firm responded that the client loves it…but wants to change this character to Duke Ellington, this one to Benny Goodman…etc. Glad they loved it. I got busy with research and turned in a real dandy on time. I got paid, but unfortunately the piece never got published by LeapFrog. They stopped publication of the magazine it was for. Too bad. But I loved how this one turned out and am really appreciative that I got to illustrate all of these jazz icons.

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