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Music from the Convergence Project
The “Convergence Project” represents a confluence of styles: the energy of rock, the language of jazz and the rhythmical vitality of Latin music. This recording begins with a “Colombian Suite,” three tunes that were written drawing on Colombian forms and rhythms.
The Cumbia is a Colombian rhythm and dance form whose origins can be traced to the early 1500s. Now, it serves as one of the country’s trademarks and its rhythm permeates Colombian popular culture. This version features drummer Satoshi Takeishi; he combines the myriad of percussion instruments found in traditional Cumbia and distills them to the drum-set.
This composition is a Pasillo, a classical music and dance form from the Andean regions of South America. I learned about Pasillos from some musician friends while we vacationed together on an island off the coast of Colombia. Each night we would play music until the wee hours under the silver moon. This song is dedicated to them. The form is AABBCCA (each letter representing a distinct theme).
Blues para Urabá
Urabá is the region of Colombia that saddles up to the impenetrable Panamanian jungle. The area is infamous for its complicated, civil battles. While living in Medellín in 1997, I was given a ride in a taxi by a former ambulance driver who had fled Urabá after assassins forced his ambulance to a stop so they could “finish the job” – shooting to death the two injured victims he was rushing to the hospital. This piece is programmatic and makes use of the Currulao, a rhythm brought by slaves to the shores of Urabá during Colombia’s colonial era.
Facing the Sun
The title of this piece serves as a call to confront problems head-on, to face the sun, to do the right thing. This piece is driven by the bass and drums and employs the Fender Rhodes electric piano to create a rock-influenced sound that was common in the late ‘70s. Trombonist Galindo quotes one of my favorite Ornette Coleman songs, Lonely Woman, in the second phrase of his solo and sets off a gradual crescendo that builds through the drum solo and coda.
This composition was written soon after attending a stellar performance of Indian music. I was drawn to the odd meters, call and response and cultivation of spaciousness. December Raga attempts to emulate the feeling, rather than the form of that music.
Sad as Honey
Stomu, Satoshi and I visit the more familiar territory of the traditional jazz piano trio. The name refers to the irony that sweet realizations sometimes grow out of difficult situations.
Bembé is an Afro-Cuban rhythm that is traditionally used to salute the Orishas (Yoruban deities that guide practitioners towards spiritual growth). The composition was created by imagining the call-and-response that could occur between the percussion and the melodic instruments. This one’s another rocker that employs the Fender Rhodes.
Strange But True
This piece began as a means to internalize a scale used by saxophonist Michael Brecker that I found intriguing and modern. The scale, which uses minor thirds and half-steps exclusively, ties together three keys a major third apart (each key shares the same set of notes).
Wheel of Time
The title of this composition is derived from the Sanskrit word Kalachakra, a term which combines the all-inclusive nature of time with the symbol of a wheel that has neither beginning nor end. I like to end concerts with this piece because it conveys feelings of peace and conclusion.
Other lead sheets
Chano’s Groove is minor blues written over a rhythm called “Afro” that was made popular by Ray Baretto and Eddie Palmieri in the ‘70s. Check out the Music Player to listen to a version with Dave Stryker on guitar, Jon Lockwood on bass, Bob Gullotti on drums, Julian Guerstin on Congas.