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Pleiades by Simeon Nathanael Davis

From the album

Album Title: Of Narratives & Nocturnes
Label: Next Level
Released: 2022

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About the Album

The Pleiades themselves are famously two things: a star cluster with seven prominent bodies, and an old Greek myth. This piece was originally composed as a commission for a group of Davis thought to be seven musicians, hence the title would be a pun (the seven stars - get it?). Shortly into writing the piece, he discovered there was an eighth musician and had to draw on another source of inspiration for the writing process and soon found himself digging into the mythological side. In the myth, the Pleiades are seven sisters, daughters of the Titan Atlas, who are kidnapped by an Egyptian ruler after they each rejected his marriage proposals. They are taken in captivity across the Mediterranean when, by chance, Heracles’s ship crosses paths with theirs. He raids it, frees the Pleiades, and returns them to Atlas, who in turn rewards Heracles by assisting him in one of his twelve labors. Musically, this piece draws on elements of Rumba and Partido Alto to evoke the oceanic motion and turbulence, while using elements of European folk melody and post-bop harmony to evoke the emotions and aesthetics of the seven sisters. As different themes overlap and familiar statements shift, the band sets the sonic stage for the music to follow the Pleiades, their strife in captivity, the conflict to free them, and ultimately their journey home. “Pleiades” features an atypical instrumentation of violin, wordless vocals, trombone, soprano saxophone, electric guitar, piano, electric bass, and drum set. Taking technical notes from Wayne Shorter’s voicing styles and paying tribute to two of Davis’s favorite composers for violin, Polish jazz violinist Adam Baldych and 20th century composer Bela Bartok, “Pleiades” capitalizes on both the unique technical aspects of these instruments and the distinct timbral colors they can create. With contrasting solos by violinist Jess Meador, drummer Josh Parker, and the bandleader himself on soprano saxophone, “Pleiades” covers a broad emotional and thematic spectrum with twists, turns, and transformations that bring the myth to life as never before.

Song Listing

The Diver; Seven Come Wednesday; Requiem for Charles; Eden; A Quiet Night in Pandemonium; Pleiades; The Panther; Ingoma Yoxolo (Peace Song)

Personnel

Simeon Nathanael Davis
composer/conductor
Holly Holt
keyboards
Jake Chaffee
bass, electric
Mario Wellmann
guitar, electric
Tyler E. Thomas
voice / vocals
Maximo Santana
trombone
Jess Meador
violin
Alex Hand
guitar
Rachel Azbell
voice / vocals

Additional Personnel

Simeon Nathanael Davis: composer, flute; Jonathan Shier: flugelhorn; Alex Hand: guitar, acoustic;

Date featured

June 20, 2022

This song appears by permission of the contributing artist and/or record company.
It is for personal use only; no other rights are granted or implied.


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