Rob Mazurek Exploding Star Orchestra
Following the 2018 JazzFest Berlin debut of the new Exploding Star Orchestra music, Mazurek returned to Chicago, where International Anthem took the opportunity to capture his new ESO compositions with a cast of collaborators from their collective constellation of artists. Over a handful of studio dates between August 2019 and March 2020, Mazurek arranged his pieces for eleven musicians—Nicole Mitchell, Jeff Parker, Jaimie Branch, Joel Ross, Mikel Patrick Avery, Tomeka Reid, Chad Taylor, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Macie Stewart, Angelica Sanchez, and John Herndon. He also commissioned his long-time lyrics collaborator Damon Locks to draft original texts for each of the songs; Locks also recorded vocal tracks. After three months of rigorous post-production, editing, and assembly work, Mazurek completed Dimensional Stardust. Dimensional Stardust recalls an array of Mazurek’s symphonic influences—from Béla Bartók to Morton Feldman to Gil Evans to Sun Ra to Pedro Santos to Bill Dixon to The Art Ensemble of Chicago. Opting to focus on tight ensemble orchestration over passages of open improvisation, Mazurek distills an orchestra of explosive improvisers into a beautifully restrained, graceful group exercise in melodic minimalism. (www.nonesuch.com)
Mary Halvorson Amaryllis Sextet
Amaryllis is the latest project by Brooklyn-based guitarist, composer and MacArthur fellow Mary Halvorson, to be released on her debut collaboration with Nonesuch Records in May 2022. The multi-dimensional sextet filters Halvorson’s compositional explorations of melody, harmony and counterpoint through the lens of six master improvisers, arranged in a way that allows for the music to unfold differently every time. The band features Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Jacob Garchik (trombone), Patricia Brennan (vibraphone), Mary Halvorson (guitar), Nick Dunston (bass) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums). On the recording, The Mivos Quartet joins for half of the music, forming a unique Tentet and making this Halvorson’s largest project to date. The music bridges many musical influences and genres from jazz, experimental, new music and beyond.
Joel Ross Parable
For his third release for Blue Note Records Joel Ross explores feelings of self-awareness, doubt, regret and forgiveness through storytellings and retellings. Immanuel Wilkins, Maria Grand, Marquis Hill, Kalia Vandever, Sean Mason, Rick Rosato, Craig Weinrib and returning special guest Gabrielle Garo join him using collaborative improvising, collective melody and instrumental features “a frontline with four horns and a sharply focused rhythm section where piano and vibes coexist harmoniously together, [resulting] in glittering, polished surfaces that bring together emotion and devotion. Ross is a serious bandleader, and this album is a combination of his creativity, skill, and generosity.” (Jazztrail.net "The Parable Of The Poet is a remarkable album, one like no other album I have heard this year. It has an uncanny ability to feel voluminous yet simultaneously intimate. Each and every movement is outstanding in its own right and together they dovetail perfectly. Just like the band, in fact. Here, we have a collection of nine musicians, all of whom are exceptionally talented individually. But, like any great team, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That collective brilliance is testament to Ross’ genius in understanding group dynamics." (Gordon Rutherford, www.louderthanwar.com)
Kris Davis Diatom Ribbons
When pianist Kris Davis was composing the pieces for Diatom Ribbons, she was musing about diatoms and larger themes of nature and science. She was also looking for opportunities to explore new musical relationships with drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and vocalist Esperanza Spalding (both Grammy winners) and ground-breaking turntablist Val Jeanty. Carrington, Jeanty and Spalding first worked with Davis on a series of tribute concerts to the late Geri Allen, and there were sparks right away. “We did ten concerts of Geri’s music,” Davis says, “so we were diving into her world. And then Cecil Taylor passed away not long after and I started revisiting all my favorite albums of his. Around this time I was also preparing to play some Monk compositions for the Monk Centennial. Between these concerts and playing/transcribing music by Olivier Messiaen, Henry Threadgill and Youssou N’Dour—there were all these influences going on here.” BIO: Kris Davis is a critically acclaimed pianist and composer described by The New York Times as a beacon for “deciding where to hear jazz on a given night.” Since 2003, Davis has released 23 recordings as a leader or co-leader. She has collaborated with Terri Lyne Carrington, John Zorn, Craig Taborn, Ingrid Laubrock, Tyshawn Sorey, Tom Rainey, Eric Revis, Stephan Crump and Eric McPherson, among others. In 2019, her album “Diatom Ribbons” was named jazz album of the year by both the New York Times and the NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. She was also named a 2021 Doris Duke Artist alongside Wayne Shorter and Danilo Perez, 2020 Pianist of the Year by DownBeat magazine, and 2021 Pianist and Composer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. In 2016, Davis launched Pyroclastic Records to support artists whose expression expands beyond the commercial sphere. She subsequently formed a nonprofit organization to support the label’s work. In addition, Davis is the Associate Program Director of Creative Development at the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. Davis is a Steinway Artist.
Fred Frith Opera: TRUTH IS A FOUR LETTER WORD
In the very near future, society has become ultra-global, ultra-fluid, ultra-mobile, everything circulates and transforms, nothing has time to settle, no truth can take root. The population appears to be asleep, every individual expected to remain flexible, without any fixed thoughts. A man called NARCIS has become the most powerful person on the planet thanks to a new application called Me-Dream. Convinced that he has been sent by aliens—that he comes from the stars—NARCIS proposes to people to dream their lives and to give reality to their dreams on Mars, where he plans a transfer of humanity. Activists, concealed under the name ECHO, try to prevent him by infiltrating his network and his soul. "I see this pocket opera as a way to explore the possible interactions between a music that is formally composed in advance of its performance and music that generates its form spontaneously via improvisation. How these worlds interact will mirror the narrative around dreams and “reality”, or the fierce mechanisms that are employed to defend different versions of the “truth”." (Fred Frith) World Premiere: Friday, February 17, 2023 at the Maison des Arts de Créteil (FR) as part of the 32nd edition of the festival Sons d`hiver. Music composed by Fred Frith (GB/USA), Libretto by Julie Gilbert (FR/CH).