1. MUÑECA - Soloists: Ryan Keberle, Franco Pinna
2-5. ANGELA - SUITE
2. Part 1 Overture Soloists: Todd Bashore & Jess Jurkovic
3. Part 2 Ojos que no ven Soloist: Josh Deutsch
3. Part 3 La Rabiosa Soloists: Carl Maraghi & Paulo Stagnaro
4. Part 4 Coda
6. LA LEY PRIMERA - Soloist: Alejandro Aviles
7. EL CUENTO QUE TE CUENTO - Soloist: Miki Hirose
8. PUSH GIFT - Soloist: John Ellis
9. NUBE - Soloist: Carl Maraghi
Alejandro Aviles alto sax 1, soprano sax, flute
Todd Bashore alto 2 sax, soprano, flute
Luke Batson tenor 1 sax, flute, clarinet
John Ellis tenor 2 sax, flute, clarinet
Carl Maraghi baritone sax, bass clarinet
Jonathan Powell, Miki Hirose, Mat Jodrell, Josh Deutsch trumpets & flugelhorns
Ryan Keberle, Mike Fahie, Mark Miller, Nate Mayland trombones
Jess Jurkovic Piano
Franco Pinna Drums
Paulo Stagnaro Percussion
Pedro Giraudo acoustic and electric basses.
After 14 years of composing and releasing albums for formations ranging in size from septet to 12-piece jazz orchestra, this is my first album for a full big band. This larger formation is especially meaningful to me, since it gives me a depth of resources for my composing and arranging. I have a broader range of possibilities for combining instruments, a wider dynamic range, and expanded ability to achieve emotional impact. It also has made me feel the huge weight and inspiration of the American big band tradition. In a way I feel now that I’m working in the territory mastered by Duke Ellington, Sammy Nestico, Thad Jones, Gil Evans, and many others whom I deeply admire. I believe that ultimately, music should be an emotional experience, and this expanded formation, featuring some of the finest musicians I've ever worked with, has given me a richness of resources I am grateful for.
1. Muñeca (Doll) This piece features an animated ⅝ rhythm loosely based on the Venezuelan merengue and a tonal but yet very dense harmonic language. It features Ryan Keberle on trombone solo, mastering the complex harmonies and rhythm, while keeping his solo very emotional and melodic. Like "Push Gift" (track 8), this tune is largely based on motivic development. Most of the music here can be traced back to the first 5 notes of the main theme played by the saxes after the introduction.
2-5. Angela Suite This four-part suite is dedicated to my second daughter, Angela, and attempts to express the many and profound feelings that emerge when one becomes a father. It uses several traditional rhythms from Argentina. First, the cueca, then the zamba, and finally the chacarera, all in 6/8 but each with a very distinct character.
The first movement serves as an overture, which features a solo by Todd Bashore on alto sax, leading to a dramatic piano solo and cadenza by Jess Jurkovic. The zamba that follows is titled Ojos que no ven or ‘Blind eyes’ which refers to a saying that you are unable to love what you cannot see (an arguable saying, needless to say!) This tune explores both sides of the argument and features Josh Deutsch on trumpet. After a brief chaotic moment, a clear sky emerges, which quickly turns into an emotional storm. Next, La rabiosa is a frenetic and aggressive piece that depicts a very angry woman (I refrain from explanations here!) Carl Maraghi captures the essence of this tune with his baritone sax solo. The last section, which I consider an extended and dramatic coda, combines most of the musical elements presented in the whole suite, all together at last, with a strong sense of forward motion in the rhythm as well as in the harmony. This section demonstrates with pride the virtuosity of the ensemble.
6. La Ley Primera (First Law) This piece is inspired by the famous long poem "Martin Fierro" by José Hernández. Dramatic yet funny, it is a chronicle of Argentine cowboy life, and Argentine children grow up familiar with many quotes from this book. One of my favorites is “Los hermanos sean unidos, porque esa es la ley primera, y si entre ellos se pelean, los devoran los de afuera” (“Brothers should be united, because that’s the most important law, and if they argue, they will be devoured by outsiders”). I dedicated this tune to my brother and sister, Agustín and Lucía. One of the simplest tunes I have written in a long time, it's based on the Argentine rhythm and form of the zamba, almost unaltered, and features mainly one voice, Alejandro Aviles on alto sax.
7. El Cuento Que Te Cuento (Storytelling) Inspired by a line in a poem by Marianela Fernandez, my wife, this tune is a musical representation of human interactions. Every time we communicate with people verbally or musically, what is being said or played is different from what is understood or interpreted by the listener, sometimes slightly, other times significantly. This piece presents many repetitions that are altered by small melodic, harmonic or timbre changes. My dear friend and colleague Miki Hirose on trumpet (who moved back to Japan shortly after recording this CD) is featured on this track and I am honored and happy to have him featured on this track.
8. Push Gift
A "push gift" is a present given to a mother at the birth of her baby by the father of the baby. Typically it is an expensive present to say "thank you" to the new mother for the ordeal of childbirth and for bringing a new life into the world. I had been unaware of this somewhat new tradition, so I was caught empty handed, but was in the middle of writing this tune, which very conveniently became my "Push Gift". The tune begins with an exposition of a 4-voice fugue. Most of the music derives from the musical gestures found in first 8 notes which are tweaked in many different ways. The piece also features a solo by John Ellis on tenor sax.
9. Nube (Cloud)
As beautiful as clouds can be, sometimes there is something indefinably heavy that lingers above us, darkening our mood. To convey both the beauty and the darkness, here once again I used the rhythm and form of a zamba. I also used on of the deepest voices in the big band: Carl Maraghi’s baritone sax.