Categories
Bob Belden jazz music new releases New York RareNoiseRecords United States University of North Texas

Bob Belden unveils dark narrative of Manhattan on second Animation project “Transparent Heart”

Following on the heels of Animation’s 2010 RareNoiseRecords debut, Asiento, and 2011’s Agemo, saxophonist-composer-bandleader Bob Belden tells his own story on Transparent Heart. With his new Animation lineup consisting of young musicians hired from his alma mater, the University of North Texas (23-year-old keyboardist Roberto Verastegui, 24-year-old bassist Jacob Smith, 29-year-old trumpeter Pete Clagett and 20-year-old drummer Matt Young), Belden unveils a dark narrative as heard through the musical diary he has composed over 29 years of living in Manhattan. 
An imposing electronic noir masterwork, Transparent Heart travels from Belden’s initial awestruck impressions of New York City (“Terra Incognito”) to his feelings of foreboding (“Urbanoia”) and hope (“Cry in the Wind”) as a city dweller on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, to the pervasive angst of post-9/11 Manhattan (“Seven Towers,” “Provocatism”). He also addresses the mass exodus of artists from the city (“Vanishment”) and concludes his musical memoir with the clash of the social classes manifested in the Occupy Wall Street movement (“Occupy!”). Belden has concocted a powerful, provocative suite of music that is charged by the intensely driving, highly intuitive playing of his young energetic Animationband mates. 
“This record is not a jazz record, it’s about my life in Manhattan,” says the Grammy Award-winning composer-arranger-producer in a news release. “In essence, the music on Transparent Heart is a reflection of the lingering tension since 9/11. It’s an honest look at Manhattan through music.”
The concept for Transparent Heart has been in the making for more than 30 years. “I first visited Manhattan in 1979 when I was with Woody Herman’s band. I’ll never forget seeing the dark shadows, steam rising from the streets, crowds of strange people lingering in Times Square well past midnight, all the tall buildings and how they created a post-gothic canyon effect,” Belden said. “That’s ‘Terra Incognito,’ a term used by local residents to describe Central Park above 96th street. Darwinistic Urban Gentrification. The uncertain outcome of riding the subway late at night. Alphabet City. Bonfire of the Vanities. AIDS. Subway Gunman. Guardian Angels. Central Park jogger. Preppie murder. Sparks Steakhouse. That’s ‘Urbanoia.'”
“Cry in the Wind,” with Clagett’s muted trumpet carrying the melancholy theme reflects another Manhattan experience, “One night from inside my ground-floor studio apartment I heard the voice of a woman crying for help faintly mixed with the sound of the wind and rustling tree leaves. Bringing my phone outside, I saw this woman who had just been stabbed, and called 911. She reached up, grabbed my hand, and didn’t let go until the ambulance got there. I helped this woman live because I cared. This tune is about hearing the cries in the wind of extreme loneliness and helplessness that are heard all the time throughout the city.”
The darkly propulsive title track echoes the hard-hitting production that Bill Laswell brought to Herbie Hancock’s 1983 hit single “Rock It.” To listen to Transparent Heart is to think about Manhattan’s self-reflective nature exemplified by extreme conflicts between physical/corporatist and social/humanist structures and the perpetual sense of energy that is created and dissipated illogically in light and shadow. 
“Seven Towers” is Belden’s reaction to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. As Belden reflects, “9/11 is a reaction to the power and influence that capital, centered in Manhattan and symbolically the World Trade Center, has on parts of the world, in the form of abject terrorism. I watched it happen from Chambers street in Lower Manhattan. This tune recreates my own autobiographical timeline of 9/11. It starts with the NORAD radio broadcast finding out a plane hit the North Tower; followed by the NYPD and NYFD responding. It’s very haunting. I believe that this moment has defined the course of history for Manhattan as well as the world at large. This album is offered in deep respect to those who lost their lives that morning of September 11, 2001, and to the families that have to live with this loss forever.”
“Provocatism” reflects the immediate aftermath of 9/11. “People fled the city as companies anticipated an economic downturn, laying off thousands upon thousands of workers. For years there were constant alerts, color-coded like a crayon book. Many small business, dependent on the World Trade Center complex, died after 9/11-replaced by the ubiquitous chain store, coffee shop, and branch-bank. The intense build up of the New York Police Department to the point of having one of the largest standing armies in the world, placing citizens under surveillance on the streets and in the subways-‘stop and frisk’ developed from this Quasi-military policing initiative.”
  
The musicians on Transparent Heart are the most talented of their generation, performing complex operatic improvisations, sounds, and textures. They are serious musicians deep into the subtle and not-so-subtle nature of this music. That they are virtually unknown to the jazz public is a blessing, as you will hear them tabula rasa, with no conditions on what to expect. From this point on you will expect greatness from each one of them.
For Belden, Transparent Heart is a musical tool to get people to think about social issues. “Music must be returned to its place as a social engineer; provoking thought amongst society. This record is not about tunes, solos, and arrangements, it’s a way of telling a story that has something to do with my life, OUR lives, and for anyone who has ever landed with excitement, wonder, fear, and hope on this tiny island off of the coast of the United States. It’s not being a musician, but rather a citizen.”  For more information on Animation, go to rarenoiserecords.com.

Categories
InterStatic Jacob Young Jarle Vespestad jazz music Oslo RareNoiseRecords releases Roy Powell United States world world jazz

Jazz trio to release self-titled ‘InterStatic’ on June 12

The genre-defying triumvirate of adept pianist, organist, and composer Roy Powell, guitarist Jacob Young and drummer Jarle Vespestad comes out blazing with a vengeance on InterStatic, their self-titled RareNoiseRecords debut and second release overall, following their ambitious 2011 outing, Anthem. Seamlessly combining elements of jazz, experimental, ambient and rock, the scintillating power trio stretches in typically intense fashion, extending the organ trio tradition established by Jimmy Smith and taken to realms beyond on such groundbreaking recordings as Tony Williams Lifetime’s Emergency! (with Larry Young and John McLaughlin) and John Abercrombie’s Timeless (with Jan Hammer and Jack DeJohnette).
“I love all the organ players who have redefined the instrument and kept it relevant to successive generations,” says Hammond B-3 maestro Powell, who contributes six compositions on InterStatic in a news release. “That includes modern day players like Larry Goldings and Sam Yahel. I´m also very influenced by the sound of pipe organ music such as that of Olivier Messiaen, which I find to be almost an out of body listening experience.” Powell also performed on two recent RareNoiseRecords releases, bassist Lorenzo Feliciati’s Frequent Flyer and Naked Truth’s Shizaru.
With the remarkably flexible drummer Jarle Vespestad (known for his work with Tord Gustavsen, Silje Nergaard, Supersilent, and Farmers Market) alternating between deliberate, big-as-a-house backbeats to surging swing grooves to dreamy rubato playing, and Nordic guitar star Jacob Young summing up myriad tones and textures on his heavily-effected axe, Powell underscores with velvety B-3 cushions while layering on affecting organ melodies and Moog synth solos throughout this evocative collection.
Says Powell, a British émigré living in Oslo, “The music on InterStatic is a change in direction from Anthem in the sense that we were feeling our way on the first one and now we have found it. On this new recording we deliberately wanted to reference (Norwegian guitarist) Terje Rypdal and a general early ECM influence together with more modern bands like Air, Washed Out and post-punk bands like The Durutti Column. In other words, a mix of influences both old and new.”
Adds Young, “InterStatic has a stronger sense of direction than our previous album Anthem had, it has more of an innovative touch than traditional. Much of this has to do with concrete discussions we had about the musical direction we wanted to explore when rehearsing. Essentially, we got bored with making another album that sounded like something we had either done before or heard before. We wanted to get more out and away from the typical jazz scene in Norway and needed a new calling card.”
Powell describes the group’s mission statement on InterStatic: “To create an instrumental organ-guitar-drums band reflecting modern preoccupations, reflecting contemporary musicians’ diverse influences regardless of genre boundaries.”

Categories
contemporary jazz jazz Mexico Mole music RareNoiseRecords releases United States world

Jazz quartet Mole to release ‘What’s the Meaning?’ on RareNoiseRecords label on May 15

It was nearly eight years ago that Mexican born pianist-composer Mark Aanderud joined forces with Argentinian drummer Hernan Hecht. Their chemistry was immediate and natural. 

“The first things we did were all related to free music, with electronic elements or not, but always with the idea of creating songs or forms in the moment,” says Aanderud in a news release. “We do have some incredible magic going on, inasmuch as we can play concerts or record without ever speaking of music, and never repeating ideas or stifling development. This actually hasn’t changed over the years.” 
From their initial encounter, the two kindred spirits progressed to the formation of Mole (pronounced Mo-Lay), an exhilarating quartet that is breaking new ground in its approach to contemporary jazz with their auspicious RareNoiseRecords debut, What’s The Meaning?.

“I think this project is an inevitable spot in my career,” says Hecht, who is also a member of the RareNoiseRecords band Brainkiller. “It is our version of contemporary jazz, the sum of all the things we’ve heard and experienced in our lives related to jazz and everything else we have acquired; sounds of other music, other arts, the sense of song. It’s a freedom of expression, not determined by traditional jazz or directly from any line of traditional language learning. I am interested in music that is broad, not determined by a style.”
Though both Aanderud and Hecht would cringe at the prospect of being labeled a fusion band, Moledoes indeed fuse a variety of music styles, from jazz and rock to classical, funk and hip-hop. 

“I don’t really like the fusion concept, but of course with all the groove and electronic elements in our music it’s natural to think it sounds like fusion a little bit,” says Aanderud. “But I see us more in the same line as groups like Phronesis, e.s.t. and Kurt Rosenwinkel and in terms of electronic music, groups like Sigur Rós, Massive Attack and Radiohead.”
After a few years of exploring their chemistry together, Aanderud and Hecht began inviting other musicians into their inner circle to see how it affected their music.

 “We always considered the possibility of working with more people to achieve different characters, sounds and experience new artistic possibilities,” says Hecht. “So I instigated tours and recordings with Tim Berne, Rick Parker, Eli Degibri, Jonathan Kreisberg, Marco Renteria, Aaron Cruz and many more musicians, always with the desire of novelty.”
For their super-charged What’s the Meaning?, Aanderud and Hecht recruited New York guitarist David Gilmore, whose impressive list of credits includes tours and recordings with the likes of Wayne Shorter, Trilok Gurtu, Don Byron and Steve Coleman’s Five Elements.

“When we decided to tour with someone else from New York, to have new sounds and pressure to work with someone already recognized internationally, someone from which to learn with a shared philosophy and professionalism, we automatically thought of David Gilmore,” says Hecht.
Adds Aanderud, “There is probably no other guitarist as diverse in groove, time and the free approach as him. So it was easy to know he was the one we were looking for.”
Rounding out the quartet is Mexican upright bassist Jorge “Luri” Molina, whom Aanderud met years ago in their native country. 

“I’ve known Luri since I started playing jazz music,” says the keyboardist who is currently based in Prague. “We were still kids and we were starting to dig this music. He was a very straight-ahead player but he became one of the most charismatic and strong rhythm players I know, and an incredible musician who just understands any musical situation.”