Out of Orbit, the bold new album by saxophonist and composer Jim Piela, is a celebration of the unknown. It’s about embracing fears with honesty and resolve, not running from or pushing them out of mind. With trumpeter Joey Lamb, bassist Bob Sabin, and drummer Josh Bailey, Piela's adventurous quartet navigates his original compositions, as well as a couple of salient classics, with grace and ingenuity, fully embracing Wayne Shorter's famous definition: “Jazz means, ‘I Dare You.’”
“As a young man, I came up musically in a small Midwestern scene, a town right on the Mississippi river. There was plenty of work so long as you could groove and play/write creative and compelling melodies, both of which became incredibly important to me. As I developed, though, I came to realize how my fear of what was unaccustomed had driven my life. It became increasingly important to me to break from my echo chamber, both musically and culturally, and challenge myself in a place like New York City. Such a drastic change terrified me, and that fear permeated into my life and my playing. Fear can push us into non-action, but it can also inspire. So one day I settled my commitments, packed my bags and got on a plane. I only had a few connections in the city, and no idea as to what might be in store, but with determination and a few serious legs up from then-strangers-now-friends, I was able to adapt. Confronting the unknown and steering straight into what I feared most was my catalyst for creation.
“In the album; the space provided by playing without a chordal instrument, the high flying melodies, and the deep grooves reflect the untethered freedom and excitement I’ve found immersing myself in the unfamiliar. Fear is an extremely powerful emotion, but this album celebrates the elation that is uncovered when one overcomes that fear, takes risks and pursues the road less traveled. I think of every tune as a snapshot in time that facing the unknown brought about, and finding overwhelming joy in that moment.” –Jim Piela
In a moment where our culture seeks examples of courage and expressions of beauty, every contribution is valuable. When we feel that in any moment life can come apart at the seams, the challenge is to walk the line between order and chaos. Sometimes focus on the small things, the basement jam sessions, the quiet moments before dawn in an otherwise noisy world, our pets, our family, our friends far away, can give a composer purpose. It’s in that purpose that we can find courage and drive, and a place on the scene. Out of Orbit is a reflection of that purpose and a bold statement by a salient new voice: Jim Piela has accepted Shorter’s dare, and has launched into orbit in the jazz sphere.