For someone who initially wanted to be an astronaut, composer Derrick Spiva Jr. writes music that could be more rooted in our Earthly humanity. Drawing his inspiration from disparate cultures the world over, and embracing a global view of our connected spirits, Spiva's music is transcendent, unifying, danceable, and as the Los Angeles Times says "enormous fun." His debut album Prisms, Cycles, Leaps is a lush, rhythmic, and soaring exploration of our modern humanity, bound by sound, and propelled by incredible optimism and pure joy.
It's not often that a 32-year-old composer has the world-premiere of his composition performed by one of the world's leading chamber orchestras as their season opener while simultaneously releasing an album featuring that same work! But Derrick has achieved the improbable. Working with his long-time friend and co-producer Ian Smith, Derrick mounted the enormous task of recording a highly complex orchestral work, combining minimalist aesthetics of Steve Reich and John Adams with West African traditional dance rhythms, and classical Hindustani melodic shapes and cycles, in addition to 4 other world-fusion oriented pop pieces drawing from hip-hop, rock, metal, and Mexican, Balkan, Indian, and African folk music. And he put all this together in time for the world premiere of the title piece, Prisms, Cycles, Leaps, with the world-renowned Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. (Read the Los Angeles Times review of the premiere here.)
Assembling a staggering cast of incredible musicians for this album, Derrick's music came to life piece by piece, as each contributor layered their own personality and flavor into the mix. Drawing on some of the Los Angeles areas most accomplished and prominent players, including Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Marcel Camargo, Gavin Templeton, Randy Gloss, Brian Walsh, and many others (click here for a complete personnel listing), Derrick danced in focused ecstasy as he saw his vision come to life. For years he's been chasing a sound that brings together all the various flavors of music he loves, and he's finally found it.
Calling his band "Bridge to Everywhere" gives you a clue as to his true purpose as a composer. The phrase "music is the universal language" is thrown around a lot, and is often a hippy-dippy way to qualify tame and uninteresting music as promoting world peace. In truth it takes courage and a boundless sense of adventure to create music that brings widely disparate cultures together. In his own experience with notating African rhythms for Los Angeles classical players, Derrick found that many revisions were necessary, acting almost as a peace-maker and translator between worlds. But his music reaches farther than that. On this album there are influences from every continent on the globe, some overt, some subtle, but all connecting the people of the world through our common musical connections.
Prisms, Cycles, Leaps embodies the best of our new, interconnected world, and is emblematic of our mission at Orenda Records. We are always searching for music that broadens our aesthetic conversation and brings people together in a way that both challenges the senses and uplifts the soul. Derrick Spiva Jr.'s music does both. And if the electricity present at the world premiere concerts this past weekend are any indicator, we're witnessing the birth of a major voice in our global music.
—Daniel Rosenboom, September 2015