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Composer / Saxophonist / Clarinetist Aaron Irwin Leads His Trio In New Poetry-infused Album '(after)'

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Irwin's music is full of surprises and is consistently unpredictable.
—All Music Guide
Composer-saxophonist-clarinetist Aaron Irwin, guitarist Mike Baggetta, drummer Jeff Hirshfield, and contemporary poets unite for an album of songs inspired by poetry

Aaron Irwin releases (after) on Adhyâropa Records (#AR00060), his ninth album, a collection of works inspired by poetry as interactions between sound and verse weave together melancholy, effervescence, and at times, anxiety sparked by chaos. Creating a collective musical voice that is direct, honest, and unique, composer, saxophonist, and clarinetist Aaron Irwin is joined by Mike Baggetta (guitar), and Jeff Hirshfield (drums). Irwin’s longstanding interest in reading and understanding poetry was given room to breathe during the pandemic. He credits his teachers and classmates (Brooklyn Poets, Gotham Writers) with providing a much-needed outlet.

“During the suddenly virtual world we all lived in during COVID, I realized the similarities between music and poetry. Beyond the cliché, it is another layered world of expression and allows for an entirely different interpretation of emotional range in the attempt to give form to the intangible.”—Aaron Irwin

The album is titled (after), in reference to the practice in poetry of writing new works inspired by, or in conversation with, an existing work. The opening track, “Recuerdo (after Edna St. Vincent Millay)," brings to life the joy and whimsy of each instrument’s voice in the beauty of the quotidian. Baggetta’s guitar shines here, providing steadiness, twists, and verve.

Three pieces on the album include the inspiration poem itself spoken as part of the presentation: “Frederick Douglass (after Robert Hayden)" read by Bonita Oliver, “The Hill (after Joshua Mehigan)" By Joshua Mehigan, and “Daniel Boone (after Stephen Vincent Benét)" By Emily Wong.

“Frederick Douglass (after Robert Hayden)" opens with the poem orated by Oliver—not long in duration, but captures in its sparse lines the life’s work of the great abolitionist, “... this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful and terrible thing... ” The music that follows brings Irwin into the forefront of the avant-folk jazz genre. “The Hill (after Joshua Mehigan)" includes the poem as well, read by its Brooklyn-based award-winning author. The comfort of the poem’s spoken rhythms is separated by musical passages featuring Irwin on bass clarinet alongside his bandmates, one of the four pieces on the album with this instrumentation. The aural landscape reflects its inspirational verse formally in its structure as well as the interpretation of its meaning for the composer. The closing piece on the album, “The President Visits the Storm (after Shane McCrae)," joins the conversation the poem is itself already in to call out the absurd and seek to make sense where sense seems to have abandoned us.

PHYSICAL + DIGITAL RELEASE
Adhyâropa Records #AR00060

Available Adhyaropa Records and Bandcamp.

About Aaron Irwin

Critically acclaimed saxophonist, multi-woodwind player, and composer Aaron Irwin is a compelling voice of his generation. Known as a “lyrical alto saxophonist and a compelling original composer" (The New Yorker), Irwin is a sought-after commodity in the New York jazz scene. In addition to leading his own groups, Irwin performs with many prominent voices in the jazz and contemporary classical community including Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society as well as a host of others. He was featured in Cicily Janus’ 2010 book, The New Face of Jazz (Billboard Books), teaches as an adjunct saxophone professor at Towson University in Maryland.

Praise

“Irwin and his fellow players constantly surprise and delight. Through their subtle application of leftfield approaches, they reveal the strain of Weird America running through the project.” —Wire Magazine

“Whether floating out-of-tempo or swinging hard, Irwin's music is full of surprises and is consistently unpredictable... highly recommended.” —All Music Guide (Four stars)

“Time is elastic in Aaron Irwin's universe, expanding and contracting capriciously... his tunes... generate thoughtful dialogues, crunchy little grooves and moments of great emotive power.” —Jazz Times

Aaron Irwin Trio: Concert Schedule

  • June 30th—The Dance Hall – Kittery, ME
  • July 1st—Bop Shop—-Rochester, NY
  • July 2nd—The Hargrove—Baltimore, MD
  • July 3rd—Rhizome—-Washington D.C
  • July 5th—Merriman's Playhouse—-South Bend, IN
  • July 6th—Fundraising Concert—Jackson, MI
  • July 7th—Bop Stop—-Cleveland, OH
  • July 8th—IBeam—-Brooklyn, NY

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Track Listing

Recuerdo (after Edna St. Vincent Millay); Frederick Douglass (after Robert Hayden); Five Bells (after Kenneth Slessor); The Hill (after Joshua Mehigan); Pikes Peak (after Sarah Holland - Batt); When I Heard At The Close Of The Day (after Walt Whitman); The Cemetery (after Steve Scafidi); Daniel Boone (after Stephen Vincent Benét); The President Visits The Storm (after Shane McCrae).

Personnel

Aaron Irwin
saxophone, alto
Additional Instrumentation

Three pieces on the album include the inspiration poem itself spoken as part of the presentation: Frederick Douglass (after Robert Hayden) read by Bonita Oliver, The Hill (after Joshua Mehigan) by Joshua Mehigan, and Daniel Boone (after Stephen Vincent Benét) by Emily Wong.

Album information

Title: (After) | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Adhyâropa Records


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