After the stunning success of last year’s New American Songbooks, Volume 1, Sound American is proud to present another chapter in our attempt to find new points of view on the concept of the American Songbook. The Volume 2 LP will be released on December 10th, 2019; a perfect gift for others or, if you’re a collector like we are, for yourself.
Last year’s release found three distinctive voices—Mary Halvorson, Ron Miles, and Greg Saunier—working together to arrange works from mass media. Their collaboration, only a few days in total, culminated in a recording that felt equal parts wild and warm; intimate and revolutionary.
Volume 2 goes in another direction. While the warmth and intimacy is still very present, thanks in large part to the expert sound at Ryan Streber’s Oktaven Studios, the experience is one-on-one, as the listener is the recipient of four mini-recitals from four of the most profound interpreters on the piano today: Kris Davis, Matt Mitchell, Aruán Ortiz, and Matthew Shipp.
Each player took on the challenge of suggesting a new direction of expansion for the time-worn concept of the American Songbook. And, while Volume 1 dealt with pop culture, Volume 2 looks more toward the ways in which we build smaller communities. Beginning with Shipp’s ecstatic takes on the hymnal and moving directly into the beautiful music from the corners of self-produced singer-songwriters as envisioned by Mitchell, a quick and timbrally rich stop at the music of Carla Bley by Davis, and ending with the forgotten music of Ed Bland as performed by Ortiz.
This LP contains music made by some of the modern masters of the piano. In these performances you can hear what has made each of them a major voice in modern jazz, but there are surprises here, as well, as each player took the opportunity to make a statement that is much more than just another solo performance. The album is about four distinct voices using the conceptual constraints of the project to push themselves to new heights. If you are a fan of solo piano or modern jazz in general, this is a must-have.
New American Songbooks, Volume 2
1. Let Us Break Bread Together (Traditional, arr. Matthew Shipp)
2. I Need Thee Every Hour (Annie S. Hawks, arr. Matthew Shipp)
Performed by Matthew Shipp
3. Identity Picks (Ryan Power, arr. Matt Mitchell)
4. You Made a Drawing (Christopher Weisman, arr. Matt Mitchell)
Performed by Matt Mitchell
1. Sing Me Softly of the Blues (Carla Bley, arr. Kris Davis)
Performed by Kris Davis
2. Sketches Set Seven (Ed Bland, arr. Aruán Ortiz)
Performed by Aruán Ortiz
Produced by Nate Wooley
Recorded June 22 and July 22, 2018 by Ryan Streber, engineer at Oktaven Studio, Mount Vernon, NY.
Graphic design and cover illustration by Lasse Marhaug.