155

Jim Kuemmerle and the Triangle Jazz Project: Our Work Is Never Done

By

Sign in to view read count
The glory of the world is magnified when the beauty of the human spirit is on full display. When our fellow man decides to look beyond the self to see us all as one collective we, then the real work of improving the human condition can begin.

As an elementary school student, Jim Kuemmerle's whole world changed when he learned the history of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire—a March 25, 1911 fire that claimed the lives of the Jewish and Italian immigrants who worked in the New York City sweatshop. Since then, the pianist/composer has dedicated himself to both honoring the memory of those who perished that day and educating the masses about how much still needs to be done to improve working conditions for those who've suffered similar fates around the world. Kuemmerle's dedication has ultimately resulted in Our Work is Never Done, a ten-track, Old World-meets-jazz chronicling of the people, places and things that represent the parts of this tragic fire's whole.

Recorded with the appropriately named Triangle Jazz Project, Kuemmerle's music has been written and arranged with the finesse of a seasoned pro. Each song paints a visual that adds an exciting element; at points it also sounds like a Broadway musical—not due to theatrics, but because of the illustrations' precision. The music tells the story of Italian and Jewish immigrants, the music playing as much a part of the storytelling as Kuemmerle's inclusion of American jazz. It's a very well-organized and conceptualized recording.

"Washington Square" has a vibrant, folksy, yet majestic vibe that conjures images of life there, the notes dancing and cultures mingling proudly, as jazz and old world folk elements make the song. At points cohesive, the aptly titled "Dividing Lines" offers an anchoring rhythm section, with two soloists who purposefully don't support each other or their accompanists. A very interesting approach to writing, it also offers a straightforward interpretation of the division that likely existed between the Factory's employers and employees.

According to Kuemmerle's liner notes, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire may have been caused by "a cigarette butt falling into fabric scraps," and "Inferno," like the other songs on the recording, offers a very real imagining of what that may have been like. The song starts with one instrument playing faintly and then it crescendos, smolders even, as layers of instrumentation and sounds provided by members of the Zivio Ethnic Arts Ensemble are added for effect, building in scope and energy before coming to a dramatic end. The care that was taken to replicate flame to full blown fire to the chilling finality of a fire's end comes through with just the right punch. "Inferno" is the song that best captures how much the telling of this story means to Kuemmerle. There's no way to escape the magnitude of the tragedy after hearing the song's heaviness.

Kuemmerle may think that our work is never done, but the blessing is that he cares enough to spark a different kind of flame—one inspiring consciousness and social responsibility. We are the change we seek.

Track Listing: Triangle; Washington Square; Dividing Lines; Harris & Blanck; Every Little Movement; Inferno; Unidentified; In America They Don't Let People Burn; Kaddishim; Our Work Is Never Done.

Personnel: Jim Kuemmerle: piano; tupan (2); organ (8); accordion (10); Jehiah Bray: bass clarinet; flute (6); Joe Chisholm: trombone; Chris Clemons: trumpet; Ken Critchfield: bass; Dale Lee: tenor saxophone; Steve Lyman: drums; Brad Wright: electric guitar; Bonnie Jean Baty: dumbek (6); Don Beckwith: Bulgarian tambura (6); Charlotte Bell: oboe (9); Karen Bradakis: tupan (6); Cristine Lewis: viola da gamba (6); Shireen Mulla Mooers: accordion (6); Jan Root: Macedonian tambura (6); Jim Stringfellow: bouzouki (6); Rebecca "Hikaru" Wixom: violin (6, 9).

Title: Our Work Is Never Done | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Adam's Apple" CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Mannequins" CD/LP/Track Review Mannequins
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "This Is Nate Najar" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "The Time Verses" CD/LP/Track Review The Time Verses
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "We're All Gonna Die" CD/LP/Track Review We're All Gonna Die
by Doug Collette
Published: October 1, 2017
Read "Live At Jazzhus Montmartre" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Jazzhus Montmartre
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 31, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.