Sorrows and Triumphs
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Sorrows and Triumphs scheduled for release on April 20, 2018 via Sunnyside Records.
The three tracks on Sorrows and Triumphs drawn from the original title suite – “Equanimity,” “Rebirth” and “Triumphs” – feature Afinidad with Parlato, Rogers and Baccato, the compositions inspired by Simon’s studies of Buddhism over two decades. Afinidad first performed the “Sorrows and Triumphs” suite in 2009 at Walton Performing Arts Center in Arkansas and later at New York’s Jazz Standard, with performances broadcast on NPR’s Jazz Set. “The music isn’t narrative in any way,” Simon explains. “But it was inspired intuitively by the effects Buddhist practice has had on me, the perspective and the little bits of enlightenment that come every day. I wrote my own words for ‘Triumphs,’ but Gretchen has also studied Buddhism, so when I asked her to contribute lyrics to ‘Rebirth,’ she knew exactly how to convey the message. Gretchen is such a special singer, who has the gift making the most of small details to expressive effect. She knows that just a whisper can have a big impact. As for the compositions, I wanted them to bring joy to the listener, to be direct and accessible, with singable melodies.”
Simon and Binney share a 25-year affinity, their musical visions as simpatico as their personalities. “Dave is eclectic, open to all sorts of influences, and has the ability to put them together into something personal, as a player and as a composer,” Simon remarks. “We have both composed for Afinidad over the years, even though this album is mine as a composer. But David’s sharp ear for aesthetic beauty makes him a great sounding board in the studio – in addition to being a featured player, he has real producing chops. He co-produced the track ‘Triumphs’ with me, adding electronics.” For his part, Binney says: “I’ve always enjoyed Ed’s sensitive musicality. His musical concept sums up the way I hear things, and because of his Latin American roots, his rhythmic sense is very strong, which complements the way I play. Sometimes I play with more abandon, and he locks things in. And his compositions have such thought behind them.” About Colley and Blade, who are leaders in their own right, Simon adds: “Musicians who are composers interpret other people’s music in a more informed way, so Scott and Brian have the sensibility to articulate my music with sensitivity to space, to quality of sound, to textural nuance.”
Guitarist Adam Rogers has been part of the extended Afinidad family for years. “He’s such a strong improver,” Simon explains, “and his versatility as a player, whether on electric or acoustic, adds a lot to what we can do texturally.” About the additional percussion of Boccato and Quintero, Simon adds: “Groove has always been a vital aspect of music for me, and with a lot of this music influenced by classical minimalism – especially Steve Reich – the extra percussion helps further articulate the groove. And in ‘Venezuela Unida,’ Luis plays the culo’e puya, a long, narrow drum, played in sets of three, associated with Afro-Venezuelan music. This composition is dedicated to my homeland. Venezuela has undergone tremendous socio-economic and political changes during the last decade. It pains me to see the strong divisions that have emerged as a result and the great difficulty people are going through. I wish for my fellow Venezuelans to elevate themselves beyond differences in views and hope they manage to find peace, understanding and unity once again.”
Sorrows and Triumphs Session
The Sorrows and Triumphs recording session took place September 6 and 7 at Systems Two Recording in Brooklyn, New York. The performances of Simon’s works Sorrows and Triumphs and House of Numbers, by Afinidad and Imani Winds were beautifully captured by engineer Mike Marciano during the two days of recording. “These were two of the most satisfying days of my life” says Simon, when speaking of the experience recording his music , ” feel very pleased with the results”. The album is scheduled for release in mid April, 2018 on Sunnyside Records.
This recording is a series of new works by Edward Simon written for his jazz quartet, Afinidad. The ensemble was co-founded by Simon and saxophonist/composer/producer David Binney. The works to be recorded are Sorrows and Triumphs and House of Numbers, both commissioned by Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works program and funded by the Doris Duke Foundation. This recording will feature Afinidad and Imani Winds, representing the jazz and classical worlds, respectively, fulfilling Simon’s goal of integrating orchestral instruments into a jazz setting. Afinidad – featuring Simon on piano alongside saxophonist David Binney, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Brian Blade – is a world-class band of versatile, empathetic jazz improvisers.
Sorrows and Triumphs, is a suite of four pieces for Afinidad with Grammy-nominee vocalist Gretchen Parlato, guitarist Adam Rogers and percussionist Rogerio Boccato. Inspired by Simon’s Buddhist studies and meditation practice, more specifically a doctrine called the Brahma-Viharas, each piece is based on each of the Buddhist virtues: loving-kindness or benevolence, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. Afinidad first performed Sorrows & Triumphs at the Walton Performing Arts Center, in Fayetteville, Arkansas on October 30, 2009 and later at Jazz Standard in New York City. Afinidad’s premiere performance was enthusiastically received and featured on NPR’s “Jazz Set.” These pieces reflect the wide range of influences and traditions that inform Simon’s composing such as jazz, South American and art music.
House of Numbers, a 40-minute suite in four movements, explores the cross-cultural resonance of numerology and the exponential musical possibilities that arise when jazz and classical artists combine. House of Numbers draws on musical traditions from Europe, Africa, North America and South America, blending composed structures with sections for improvisation. This suite brings together the distinct and often exclusive worlds of jazz and classical music, challenging chamber musicians to stretch their improvising skills, while inviting jazz artists into the formal structures of classical music. The numbers 3, 4, 5 and 7 – and their cultural and musical implications – form the basis of the new piece, with one movement in the suite devoted to each. The movements explore the formal and emotional possibilities generated by a given number. Simon, with Afinidad and award-winning classical ensemble Imani Winds, gave the premiere performance of House of Numbers at Faye Spanos Concert Hall, at the University of the Pacific on September 9, 2016.
Reviewing Afinidad’s Latin-inflected music-making, All About Jazz described the sound as “wonderful, accessible and deep.” About his bandmates, Simon remarks: “Their musicality, openness, and breadth give me the greatest freedom as a composer. It is our artistic bond of trust, built over many years, that underpins and encourages my explorations in .these pieces”.
House of Numbers: Movement 1,” Uninvited Thoughts”
Framed around the number 4, this piece shifts through four distinctively different grooves.
Composed by Edward Simon
Performed at Dalton Center, Western Michigan University, on September 11, 2016 .
Edward Simon – piano
David Binney – alto saxophone
Scott Colley – bass
Brian Blade – drums
Valerie Coleman, flute
Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe
Mark Dover, clarinet
Monica Ellis, bassoon
Jeff Scott, french horn
Start and End Dates
09/06/2016 — 01/31/2017
New York, New York