Label: Milessmiles Productions
1. Eternal 2. Love Dance 3. Two as One 4. how to reach every corner 5. don't worry I'll lift the sky 6. teenagers lifting the sky 7. Shadow and Light 8. Between Earth and Sky 9. Out of Silence 10. Continuity and Change 11. Through Dreams, Through Time
Additional Personnel / Information
Bill Stevens, trumpet, flugelhorn, electric trumpet, compositions Jordan Young, alto sax Sean Moran, guitar Hyuna Park and Harry Miller, piano & keyboards Luca Rosenfeld and Evan Lawrence, upright and electric bass Gary Fogel and Misia Vessio, drums Rosdeli Marte, voice Anja-Christin Nielsen, spoken word narration Engineer: Peter Karl – Douglass Recording, Brooklyn, NY
Bill Stevens Connections The third year of my post retirement five-year plan involved the creation of a large, multi-movement suite that would allow each composition to stand alone, but collectively work as an extended sequential statement incorporating three smaller suites or movements within this framework. This became “The Connections Suite”. As I thought about the three smaller suites or movements I began by looking for the connections of my music with other artistic disciplines. The first became a three movement Dance Suite (Music for Dance in Three Movements), followed by a three movement suite based on three paintings by the Norwegian artist, AK Dolven (Please Return) and in conclusion, I planned a five movement spoken word suite to eight poems selected from the 2003 collection, “Flokken og skuggen” (The Flock and the Shadow) by the Norwegian poet Eldrid Lunden. I continued to incorporate in my music the devices that have been a part of my compositional identity for the last three plus decades most recently exemplified by my last album lema sabachthani in 2012; however now incorporating a more minimalist approach to Jazz modal harmony, focusing more on melody and the use of reduction in my compositional process leading to a continued study and application of folk melodies, harmonic grips and individual and group improvisational concepts. I also drew upon a study of European Jazz and the ECM sound to move my music in a new direction. Music for Dance in Three Movements In thinking through the Music for Dance, I had the idea of using this piece beyond the parameters of the Connections Suite. I wanted to use this as a gift to my wife, Laura, for our 25th wedding anniversary that we would be celebrating on June 9, 2018. Aside from composing the music, I knew that I would need a great deal of help from friends and colleagues if I were ever able to make this into a reality. The three compositions making up the Music for Dance are called Eternal, for that search we all undertake in trying to find a life partner or soul mate. Love Dance brings to mind that “I found someone” moment and Two as One speaks to the connection you have with that special someone where if it’s right you can maintain your own identity while becoming stronger together as you go through life. Once the music was ready, I arranged the three movements into a connected suite keeping it at a 12 minute maximum for the choreography, although the compositions presented here are as singular pieces. I was fortunate to have Hyuna Park on piano, Luca Rosenfeld, upright bass and Gary Fogel, drums to record the piece at Douglass Recording in Brooklyn, NY with my long time collaborator, engineer Peter Karl. Next, I reached out to Andre Vasquez, the Production Manager at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts to see if there was a possibility of producing the work with students from the schools Dance, Film and Theatre Management departments. I commissioned Luba Ash to do the choreography and Dexter Buell to direct the production including the filming and editing and on December 9, 2017 the filming took place on the stage of the Tony Bennett Concert Hall. It was at this point that I knew it was about to become a reality and I am forever thankful for the efforts of so many. Not only did I have my anniversary gift for Laura, but I also had the first three compositions recorded for this new project. Please Return – Three Compositions to the Works of AK Dolven For the next suite, I knew that I wanted to once again create music to a series of artworks. Two occurrences took place back to back to lead me to discover the Norwegian artist AK Dolven. I was fortunate to have received an invitation to speak at a conference at the Norwegian Academy of Music in 2017. In preparing for this trip I began to research as much as possible on Oslo, as well as Norwegian food, the arts and history. I discovered AK Dolven through a retrospective book entitled, “Please Return”, while coincidentally at this time, my brother-in-law, Brainard Carey, had just completed an interview with Ms. Dolven from her home in Lofoten, Norway that aired on Yale Public radio in New Haven, CT. In speaking with Brainard and in researching a historical perspective of her work, it became clear to me that this is where I would begin. As the 2016 election in the United States became front and center in all our lives and simply inescapable, the divisiveness of the campaign also became more prominent; however in looking at examples of Ms. Dolven’s works I came across three paintings that gave me hope. The first being, “how to reach every corner”, spoke to me on how the world is stronger when we reach out to one another, when we bring everyone together instead of creating divisions of us verses them. The second, “don’t worry I’ll lift the sky” spoke to my belief that as divided a country as the United States is at this moment, sanity would prevail in the election process which, I’m sorry to say actually failed to materialize. But out of every event, there can be feelings of hope as it is now on our shoulders, the people, in resistance, to push forward for peace and unity. Finally in the painting, “teenagers lifting the sky” I had a belief that eventually, in time, the next generation would have the foresight to correct my generation’s mistakes and take us into a better future. Sadly, it is often horrific events that spark a movement and in the wake of the recent shooting at a Florida high school this prediction, this hope that it will be teenagers who will lead the way toward real change, lifting the sky, one step at a time. Flokken og skuggen (The Flock and the Shadow) – the Poetry of Eldrid Lunden As the concept of the Connections project began to take shape and through my research prior to my trip to Norway I was led to the discovery of the Norwegian poet Eldrid Lunden. I found a copy of her poetry through her 2003 book, “Flokken og skuggen”. While written in Norwegian, I had to find translations of the text in order to read and develop a comprehension of her writing. With the English translations, a series of the poems began to stand out to me, specifically as a New Yorker who had been through the horror of September 11th. Like many New Yorkers, I have had a difficult time coming to grips with my own feelings from that day. It wasn’t until the summer of 2017 that I could even make my way to the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan to see the buildings imprint in the form of waterfalls. There was still no way I was able to go inside to see the exhibits. Unlike many artists, I was not able to put into music and sound my feelings from that day. Instead at the time, I did write a composition that appears on my album, Full Circle from 2005 called, The Day After. On the day following the attacks, I saw my fellow New Yorkers in shock, but not broken. There was a resolve and a strength as we all realized that we were not alone in this and together, we would move forward. In reading the poems of “Flokken og skuggen”, I came across a series of eight poems that described, to me, the acts of 9/11, as well as the passage of time that really doesn’t heal the wounds of that horrific day. But I also felt from her writing that the world, the universe was watching us in how we responded and this is where we failed leaving an emptiness that is ever present in the fact that the world changed that day, and in its aftermath, for all of us. Eldrid Lunden uses the images of woods, a man and his dogs, bare trees and small animals to encapsulate a city numb, shocked and in despair, yet strong and vibrant at the same time. That morning, my students looking out from their classroom window towards the Hudson River noticed something, “turning slowly following its thought”. She, as we all did, felt that, “This is out of place” and “instinctively look for something lush and green to fix my gaze upon”. The series I chose moves through time – “November”, there is more movement in the City now in the form of “the small animal suddenly scrambling to the top among the branches”, but as we run through our daily rituals, something is amiss not just in New York, but in the world and it is difficult to distinguish the passing of time, as “Winter may set in”. And yet, with so much death, life continues to start anew (“Spring light through the branches”). All around us, there is an understanding as time moves on that we are being watched (“The universe is watching us in great movement in their anonymity.”). Based on our own actions, there is no approval or disapproval, only silence. Ultimately, we are left feeling empty and isolated. We know that this feeling will stay with us until we are willing and able to rise above our base fears and reach out with arms wide open to build bridges of peace and trust with mankind instead of looking to build walls. * Please note that the titles attached to the five compositions of this suite are mine and not that of Ms. Lunden.
Album uploaded by Bill Stevens