Three radical American artists update the time-worn concept of the American Songbook. Greg Saunier of Deerhoof joins two burgeoning legends of American experimental jazz, Ron Miles and Mary Halvorson, in interpolating music outside of Tin Pan Alley. The result is an astounding new take on music by Fiona Apple, Elliott Smith, John Williams, James P. Johnson, and others.
This recording features three of America’s brightest stars of rock, experimental, and jazz music in a first-time meeting. Greg Saunier is best known for brilliant, mind-bending drumming in his band Deerhoof. Mary Halvorson, still in her 30s, is being hailed as a significant new voice in experimental modern jazz while working with legends such as John Zorn and Anthony Braxton. Ron Miles’s lyrical and folksy cornet playing with Bill Frisell and Joshua Redman has made him a unique voice in straight-ahead jazz circles.
New American Songbooks, Volume 1 was originally released on LP in December 2017 as the debut issue in a new series produced by Sound American Publications. Saunier, Miles, and Halvorson were invited to pick the tunes that they thought should be included in a new American Canon and come together as a one-time group to make arrangements, rehearse and record. The result is a beautifully intimate document of three iconoclastic musicians producing a music greater than the sum of its parts, which pays homage to the American musical tradition while absolutely breaking new ground.