Ars Nova was an American psych-rock band from New York that released a self-titled album on Elektra in 1968, followed by Sunshine & Shadows on Atlantic in 1969. The first album features the track “Fields of People,” which The Move covered on their 1970 second album Shazam. The second Ars Nova album features session keyboardist Warren Bernhardt (Arista Allstars, Paul Winter Sextet, Steps Ahead, White Elephant) and trumpeter Jimmy Owens, who released a pair of jazz-funk solo albums on Horizon during the late 1970s.
Members: Jonathan Raskin (bass, guitar, vocals, 1967-68), Giovanni Papalia (guitar, 1967-68), Wyatt Day (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Maury Baker (percussion, 1967-68), Bill Folwell (trumpet, bass, 1967-68), Jon Pierson (trombone, vocals), Warren Bernhardt (keyboards, 1968-), Art Koenig (bass, 1968-), Joe Hunt (drums, 1968-), Jimmy Owens (trumpet, 1968-)
Ars Nova was formed in 1967 by two students from the Mannes School of Music: trombonist and singer Jon Pierson and guitarist, keyboardist, singer, and composer Wyatt Day. The original lineup also included organist Maury Baker, lead guitarist Giovanni Papalia, bassist/trumpeter Bill Folwell, and bassist/guitarist Jonathan Raskin. All were newcomers except Folwell, who played on the 1967 Impulse! release In Greenwich Village by Albert Ayler.
Ars Nova took their name from a style of 13th century polyphonic secular music that was popular in France and the Low Countries. Producer Paul A. Rothchild (The Doors, Love, Clear Light) signed them to Elektra.
Their debut album, Ars Nova, appeared in April 1968. It has 10 proper songs, most divided by entractes (intervals). Wyatt wrote all the music, apart from the instrumental “Zarathustra” (Baker) and four entractes. He co-wrote four songs (“General Clover Ends a War,” “I Wrapped Her In Ribbons (After Ibiza),” “Song to the City,” “March of the Mad Duke’s Circus”) with non-performing lyricist Greg Copeland, who also penned for Nico, Clear Light, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Pierson wrote the lyrics for “Album In Your Mind” and “Fields of People,” the latter covered in 1970 by The Move on their second album Shazam.
The Ars Nova cover was photographed by Joel Brodsky in a shadowed-faces style, similar to his cover shots for 1967/68 albums by The Doors, Circus Maximus, Shadows of Knight, and Notes from the Underground. The back cover shows their faces embalmed while the inner-sleeve shows a metal engraving of their heads and trademark trumpet valves. Their logo was designed by Gene Szafran (Rhinoceros, Earth Opera, Stardrive, Stories).
Mere months after its release, the band broke up after opening for The Doors at the Fillmore east. Day and Pierson assembled a new Ars Nova with guitarist Sam Brown, trumpeter Jimmy Owens, bassist Art Koenig, keyboardist Warren Bernhardt, and drummer Joe Hunt, all veteran jazz players.
Brown played on albums by the Paul Winter Sextet and a collaborative effort between Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba. Recently, he’d played on 1966–68 titles by Gary McFarland, Gabor Szabo, Hubert Laws, Gap Mangione, Mike Mainieri, and Duke Pearson.
Hunt was a mainstay of the George Russell Sextet. He also played on albums by Don Friedman, Gary Burton, and Stan Getz. Bernhardt was longtime member of the Paul Winter Sextet with further credits behind Gerry Mulligan, Astrud Gilberto, and Don Sebesky.
Hunt, Bernhardt, and Koenig all played on the 1968 Verve release Bobby / Billy / Brasil by Bobby Hackett and Billy Butterfield with featured performer Henrique.
The septet Ars Nova released Sunshine & Shadows in June 1969 on Atlantic. Wyatt composed six of the 10 numbers and co-wrote three others: one with Copeland (“Temporary Serenade”) and two with lyricist Gail Collins (“Sunshine & Shadows,” “She Promises Everything”), the partner of Mountain bassist/singer Felix Pappalardi. Owens contributed “You Had Better Listen,” originally recorded on a namesake 1967 Atlantic release by the Jimmy Owens – Kenny Barron Quintet.
Sunshine & Shadows was produced by Arthur Gorson and engineered by Brooks Arthur (The Wind in the Willows, Gandalf, Bert Sommer, Paul Jones). The album art and photography were done by the design firm Graffiteria (Mary Wells, Nazz, Margo Guryan, Iron Butterfly). Six members are pictured on the front and back. Next to Bernhardt’s name, the seventh listed under group credits, it reads “joins Ars Nova on keyboard.”
- Ars Nova (1968)
- Sunshine & Shadows (1969)
Cheryl Dilcher (Nov. 12, 1946 — Feb. 26, 2005) was an American singer/songwriter from Allentown, P...
The Family Tree were a Canadian pop-psych band that released the album Miss Butters with accompany...
Hard Meat was an English psychedelic hard-rock band from Birmingham that released two albums on Warn...
Hodges, James & Smith were an American vocal trio from Detroit. The nameplate was briefly suff...
Gracious was an English symphonic/art-rock band that released a self-titled album on Vertigo in 1970...