Alba - Meditations on Sunrise
Release Date: June 1, 2010
Official web site:
ASIN (Amazon): B0036FFI26
Total length: 18 tracks / 56:51
Catalog #: MSR-101
Alba — Meditations on Sunrise celebrates improvisation, intention, and most of all spontaneity. It began as a set of “New-Age Jam Sessions” and grew into this album that balances the new age genre with the complexity of classical music and themes from world music traditions.
This music celebrates improvisation, intention and most of all spontaneity. Nearly all the music is almost completely impromptu, composed in the moment it was performed. We took a deep breath, and started playing. These selections are melodic, joyous and wonderfully easy to listen to. You’ll hear hints of Native American, Indian, Czech, American and Japanese folk melodies, as well as some blues and funk!
The music is relaxing, inspiring, motivating and it sounds like a glorious sunrise!
Alba is a Spanish word that means dawn or daybreak. I chose it to represent this recording because when we convened for the sessions that eventually became this album, the music that emerged had a new age, early-morning sentiment. And, since this is my first CD, this album represents something of a sunrise in my musical life.
This music celebrates improvisation, intention, and most of all spontaneity. The music is almost completely impromptu—composed in the moment it was performed. With the exception of one track, “Saygita’s Dawn,” we had no written music in front of us and no preconceived notion of key, tonality, rhythm, or length. In each case we took a deep breath, looked at each other, and starting playing. In some cases we improvised over previously recorded material or “composed” tracks by layering sections on top of each other. For the most part, you’re hearing single takes from start to finish.
I hope you find this music relaxing, inspiring, motivating, and overall something you’ll look forward to experiencing—like a glorious sunrise!
The title track, Alba, is an improvisation over the Japanese Koto played by Eric Miller and the Swiss Hang (a metal hand drum) played by Ron Kravitz.
The second track, Noesis, is a Greek word meaning the ability to sense or know something immediately. I recorded each of the five musical layers. To me, it sounds like a cello in a Gothic church in France.
Next, Eclectacy is music of sheer joy–it combines piano, Irish flute, and cello, and ends with a lot of victorious energy.
The plucked instrument in Tonkori Dreams is a lesser-known Japanese instrument, and this track is another overdub, improvised over an existing track.
Whispering Sunrise is the result of in-the-moment improvisation by Peter Dubner on keyboard and Clint Goss on Native American Flute during a break in our recording session. Thankfully, the recording system was still running! I layered the cello after the break, while listening to their improvisation. Native American flute gives this track an ethereal tone.
There are four String Silhouettes, each a duet with violin and cello, and each expressing a type of musical energy inspired largely by the Czech composer Zoltán Kodály, who composed a famous cello and violin duet. You may hear some reminiscences of Aaron Copland in this track as well.
Blue Sunrise is a dark, brooding duet, but tinged with a jazzy feel.
Celestial Winter, another cello/piano duet, contrasts the blues feeling with an expansive tonality.
Saygita’s Dawn is based on a melody composed by Peter Dubner. You’ll hear the traditional Indian tamboura, which is a drone note that sets the key. After a short improvised introduction, the piano introduces the melody, and the cello plays riffs on this very exotic and tantric melody.
Winter Muse was “composed” by Clint Goss, who layered several tracks on top of each other to brilliant effect. It’s just two of us playing, though it sounds like a full string orchestra.
Another Place is more upbeat, with Peter’s piano introduction setting the basic energy level.
On Electric Slam Funk, I switched to an electric cello, and the music that emerged has a very different feel from everything that came before. We then took it further and added a funk rhythm. Clearly the sun has risen!
In Dark Winter Embers, we’re back in the deep cold tundra–there’s nothing better than two cellos and a double bass to evoke distance and a cold, brooding dawn. I recorded this track with Saskia Lane and Jessie Reagen Mann in the sanctuary of the B’nai Jeshurun synagogue just before a service.
Chances Are is joyful and victorious. The melodies are spontaneous, but to me, it sounds like a film score.
First Release was just that–the first track we recorded. When we finished it, we knew we had started on a fantastic musical journey, which now closes out this album.
The last String Silhouette is a bonus track–just for kicks. I think you’ll be able to tell that David and I were punch drunk on music at this point, and you can taste our joy in playing wonderful music together!
Eugene Carr (cello) originally trained at the Juilliard School, and then earned undergraduate degrees at both the Oberlin Conservatory and Oberlin College. During that time he performed in over 50 countries overseas with orchestras and in chamber music groups. More recently, he has been a resident cellist at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York City since 2001. Gene’s musical activities today are mainly focused in the world of free improvisation. He participates regularly in workshops and concerts of improvised music. This is his first CD. In “real life,” Gene is a graduate of Columbia Business School and the founder and president of Patron Technology, which provides the Web-based PatronMail e-mail system and other technology to over 1,700 non-profit arts and cultural organizations across the country and around the world.
Peter Dubner (piano, keyboards), a self-taught pianist, is an avid composer, performer, and recording enthusiast. His music reflects his appreciation of a wide range of genres including blues, jazz, rock, gospel, classical, musical theater, ethnic, and world music. Recent musical projects include writing and recording piano backing tracks for “Native Flute Tracks,” performing regularly as vocalist in a gospel choir, and working on a compilation of original compositions for an upcoming CD. He is a graduate of Music for People’s four-year Musicianship program. Beyond the world of music, Peter is active in executive coaching and has additional experience in strategic marketing and finance.
David Rudge (violin) is the Director of the Improv. Collective, a performing ensemble based at State University of New York Fredonia. He is closely associated with Music for People, and has taught free improvisation in the U.S. and abroad. As an improvising musician, he has studied and/or performed with Paul Winter, Paul Horn, Walter Thompson, Arthur Hull, and Don Campbell, and has conducted for David Darling and Jean-Luc Ponty. His day job is as an orchestra and opera conductor.
This album owes its existence to two people and one institution. The first is David Darling, the brilliant and inspiring cellist who leads workshops as part of Music for People, a non-profit he founded more than 20 years ago. The organization is dedicated to encouraging traditionally trained professional and non-professional musicians into the world of free improvisation. I attended his workshops several years ago, and my musical life changed as I realized that I could make better music than I ever imagined without a piece of printed music in front of me. David’s encouragement and energy served as my muse.
It was at those workshops that I was introduced to an entire community of musicians all of whom live in the world of free improvisation. David Rudge and I started playing duets together and realized that with our traditional classical training we bring a structured and harmonic language that grounds our playing. Once we started playing with keyboard/pianist Peter Dubner, whose enthusiasm for improvising never ends, I knew something special was happening.
The other person who greatly influenced me is Clint Goss, a true renaissance man. With a background in computer science, he’s a multi-talented musician, recording engineer, and much more. I’m thrilled that this album is on his Manifest Spirit label. We recorded this album in his studio, and he’s done an amazing job of editing and mixing. Most importantly, it is his enthusiasm for the potential of this album that propelled it forward.
Other thanks are due to the many people who responded to our request on Facebook for help in naming the album and the tracks. The album name comes from jazz pianist Pedro Sarmiento in Madrid, and individual track names were suggested by Stephen Brock, Peter Dubner, Clint Goss, Randy A. Motz, Judi Ribbler, and Jessica Zimmerman.