“[A] visionary jazz and world-music saxophonist/composer”
— Hartford Courant
“Rogers is an inventive and charismatic saxist, and as a bandleader he’s savvy enough
to make optimal use of what he’s got.”
— Global Rhythm Magazine
LINER NOTES (by David Rogers)
I wrote the music for this album with the thought of painting in mind. I wanted to create a series of pieces that would fit together in a broad sense, but with each having a distinct character. A an artist might choose different pigments for each picture in a series, I wrote each piece in adistinct palette of instrumental colors, with its own kind of rhythmic feel, and a different formal structure. In writing them I drew inspiration from a wide variety of musical sources from the voluminous American jazz tradition and from other musics around the world. It was a great joy to work with such a creative, broadminded, and flexible group of musicians who leapt right into each piece, bringing a wealth of ideas and musicality to every one.
OBOO KETUA NYOM (“Little Stone Song”) was originally a sax solo inspired by and based loosely on gyil (an African xylophone) music of the Dagara and Lobi peoples, and was written for and dedicated to Mark Stone’s then-unborn son Kwame. In this arrangement I added two gyile (taking full advantage of Mark and Gerald) and Gerald’s ever adaptable drumset. The form is a palindrome (ABCBA) with slow, fast, and medium tempo themes; the gyil solo in the fast theme is Mark’s. The end of the slow theme is an African-style melodic syllabization of the title where the sax plays/says like a talking drum: “Oboo ketua, oboo ketua, oboo ketua nyom, oboo ketua nyom.”
DON’T DROP THAT COFFIN! The title of the trio tune came from an image I had of a New Orleans funeral where the joyous march music gets so exciting and the crowd starts dancing so vigorously that someone has to shout out a warning to the pallbearers. “The engineer said it reminded him of circus music; listen for the “saber dance” theme he said he heard in the middle of my solo.
MOBIUS TRIP is based on a motif I found one summer in Oakland, California, for which I finally worked out counterpoint and a B theme more than a year later. Like moving along a mobius strip (a flat strip given a half-twist and looped, to form a three-dimensional shape with only one side), as the head [? not sure what “head” means here] goes along the key theme switches from melody to bass and back, with lurching rhythmic counterpoint in the opposing part.
THE MERCIFUL ONES is written as a four-part cantus firmus chorale with drumset and a sax solo laid over it. Cantus firmus is a medieval style of choral writing where the main theme is heard in the bottom voice, rather than the top. Here, the chorale builds on top of the slow bowed bass theme which repeats (with different rhythmic values) throughout the piece. Underneath this the drums play in a very fast feel, building with the ensemble and creating a rhythmic tension which the sax solo both expressed tries to reconcile.
LA ISLA DE REYES is a three-part fantasia on Afro-Cuban themes which draws on traditional Cuban rumbas and montunos and some of my own vaguely Cuban-inspired rhythms and melodies. Check out Craig’s nod to montuno pianists Eddie Palmieri, Frank Emilio and others in the final solo.
THE WORLD IS NOT YOUR HOME draws both on traditional music from West Africa and on strains of modern jazz that have been influenced by African traditions. The traditional drumming is Kondalia from the Takai dance of the Dagbamba people of northern Ghana. As we were recording this, the Dagbambas in Ghana were engaged in a brutal civil war with another ethnic group in the north; more than a hundred villages were being burned to the ground and thousands were killed in towns we had lived and studied in. We were saddened to think that they could not play this music for themselves now, and thousands of miles away, we had to play it for them. The clarinet’s melody at the beginning and end is from a Hausa folk song whose words mean:
“One by one we come into this world, one by one we leave it.
One by one we come into this world, one by one we leave it.
This world is not your home. It is just like a shaky hut.”
David Rogers—tenor saxophone, lunna (talking drum)
Gerald Cleaver—drumset, percussion
Marion Hayden—acoustic bass
Mark Stone—vibraphone, conga, gungon, gyil (Dagara xylophone)
Derek Bermel—clarinet, gyil, lunna, clave
JUMBIE RECORDS and Jumbie Records Artist Management promote the recording and the performance of innovative new music rooted in world traditions. To see Jumbie artists live, bring them to your venue, or to find out about other projects and releases, please visit http://www.jumbierecords.com