In this day and age being a successful artist is to be essentially a CEO of his own artisan brand, or what The Atlantic's William Deresiewicz calls a "creative entrepreneur." This Creative Entrepreneur-ing Officer must be inherently self-motivated, he must have solid organizational skills, and above all, he must be a visionary, one who can imagine the unknown and unrealized and make it an actuality. It is this third thing, the gift of vision, which has no greater host than trumpeter and composer Daniel Rosenboom, which has driven him to create the Los Angeles-based label Orenda Records, while at the same time compelling him to create a series of riveting albums of original music, including his latest daring offering, the live double album Astral Transference & Seven Dreams.
This album represents and signifies a culmination of sorts for the composer. Rosenboom's ability to turn his visions and dreams into physical sights and sounds is now coinciding with the realization of his hope for a galvanized modern improvised community through Orenda Records. The label is celebrating its first year of existence with an ever-growing roster of outstanding musicians and an already-impressive catalogue of albums. As a composer who utilizes free improvisation in virtually all of his works, Rosenboom strikes a fine balance between writing highly organized melodic ideas while giving his musicians the freedom to express themselves in their most honest form. Rosenboom is able to apply this formula to both his bands and his record label, with similarly adventurous and provocative results.
Astral Transference & Seven Dreams was recorded live on May 7, 2014 at Blue Whale, the now-famous jazz club in Downtown Los Angeles. Rosenboom says of the music, "These two pieces represent very different approaches to composition: Astral Transference is essentially a minimalist piece that pairs techniques pioneered by Terry Riley in his seminal work, In C, with late-Coltrane-esque improvisation and DJ-like groove-shifting. Seven Dreams is a more open, conceptual score inspired by and dedicated to my first trumpet teacher, Wadada Leo Smith (who also happens to be one of the great free music visionaries in jazz history)." Astral is a 31-minute minimalist piece for octet with electronic music and groove elements, where Seven Dreams is a seven-movement suite for quintet (trumpet, cello, piano, bass, and drums), in which each piece corresponds to "dreams," stanzas of a poem written by Rosenboom. This poem is featured in the liner notes beautifully framed by graphic artist Eron Rauch, whose own unique visions define the look and branding of Orenda. According to Rosenboom, "The verses of the poem aren't actual dreams, but are essentially musings on the nature of life and existence within the universe, and how human life and experience might relate to the more "permanent" elements of our universe (i.e. the ancient tree, Venus, the Moon, the volcano, Saturn), and a nod to the more fleeting as well (the insect)."
For these pieces Rosenboom enlisted fellow Orenda compatriots (and long-time collaborators and bandmates): alto saxophonist Gavin Templeton, tenor saxophonist Jon Armstrong, and guitarist Alexander Noice. In addition, Rosenboom reached outside his usual circle of trusted musicians and added virtuoso cellist Artyom Manukyan, and the brilliant rhythm section of Richard Giddens (bass), Gene Coye (drums), and Joshua White, the gifted young pianist from San Diego whose second-place finish in the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition catapulted him into predominance. All the musicians play with a controlled frenzy that underscores their sophisticated understanding of the organization of sound, but the composer himself steals the show with his powerful, emotional, impeccable trumpet lines which propel his playing further to the forefront than in any of his prior works. The other players follow their leader's example and turn in inspired individual performances, no doubt buoyed by the enthusiastic support of the live audience at the club. Rosenboom intimates that this album will be the first in a series on Orenda Records called "Live at Blue Whale", which aims to document the almost magical atmosphere which is becoming the stuff of legend in Los Angeles and throughout the worldwide jazz community.
With it's focused yet wide-ranging sonic imagery, coupled with the collaboration and integration of a diversity of talent, Astral Transference & Seven Dreams is the next step toward realizing Daniel Rosenboom's vision of both his own musical development and the ultimate goals of his brainchild, Orenda. "I think this album is a harbinger of things to come - I think I've found a community of musicians who can come together and create astonishing music, and when given a framework to play with, they can create unexpected and expansive music. So, there might be more experiments like this on the very near horizon!"
Let's hope so.
—Gary Fukushima, at-large writer for LA Weekly
ASTRAL TRANSFERENCE & SEVEN DREAMS
Daniel Rosenboom (t), Gavin Templeton (as), Jon Armstrong, (ts), Alexander Noice (eg),
Artyom Manukyan (c), Joshua White (p), Richard Giddens (b), Gene Coye (d)
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