501

Sam Newsome & Lucian Ban: The Romanian-American Jazz Suite

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Sam Newsome & Lucian Ban: The Romanian-American Jazz Suite The Romanian-American Jazz Suite, by soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome and pianist Lucian Ban, is another very good example of how the jazz aesthetic of personal expression be applied to other music (here Romanian folk music and Christmas carols) and, in essence, subsume it. The project has its genesis in an award given by CEC Artslink to promote cross-cultural projects between the United States and Central Europe, among other regions.

Having Romanian roots, Ban lent Newsome a collection of Romanian carols put together by Iosif Hertea, providing the inspiration for a four-movement suite—"Prelude," "Colinda," "Bucharest Part One" and "Bucharest Part Two"—composed and arranged by the saxophonist. A successful tour followed and a second award from Meet The Composer allowed the suite to be expanded with compositions by Ban. After returning to Romania, the band then traveled to New York to perform the suite, sponsored by the city's Romanian Cultural Institute, which led to this recording.

The band includes Ban's long-term musical partner (see The Tuba Project (CIMP, 2006)) baritone saxophonist Alex Harding (who also plays bass clarinet), drummer Willard Dyson and Romanians Sorin Romanescu (guitar) and Arthur Balogh (bass). The interaction of Balogh and Dyson is crucial to the music's rhythmic vitality, which comes from odd-meter dance forms.

Harmonically, the music reflect Romania's past, with the pentatonic and minor scales used providing clearly audible links to Mongolian, Arabic, Turkish and Jewish folk music. Newsome relates in the liner notes that he used a number of techniques to overcome or prevent the melodic repetitiveness and harmonic monotony that is endemic to folk music. The results work very well and there is no strain felt in maintaining interest.

Ban's pieces include two tunes with deep grooves ("Transylvanian Dance" and "Danube Stroll"), an arrangement of a traditional Romanian melody ("Carol") and a very beautiful original ( "Where Is Home?"). The remaining tune, "Home," is composed by Ban, Newsome and Romanescu.

The music was extremely well-received in Romania because of the direct references to commonly known folk melodies, but American listeners need not be Romanian musicologists to enjoy this music and the playing of the band. There is enough fine and moving playing by Newsome, who has an awesome technique which includes circular breathing. However, he subordinates his technique to the music, applying it tastefully. Harding, although playing a mostly supportive role, lets loose occasionally and gives this mainstream music a harder-edged kick.

The Romanian-American Jazz Suite is delightful—emotionally as well as physically moving. As one might expect, live performance takes off from where this recording ends.


Track Listing: Transylvanian Dance; Carol; Danube Stroll; Home; Prelude; Colinda; Bucharest Part One; Bucharest Part Two; Where Is Home?

Personnel: Sam Newsome: soprano saxophone; Alex Harding: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Lucian Ban: piano; Sorin Romanescu: guitar; Arthur Balogh: bass; Willard Dyson: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Jazzaway | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Of Colors" CD/LP/Track Review Of Colors
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 11, 2016
Read "Sunkissed" CD/LP/Track Review Sunkissed
by Jeff Winbush
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Honey For The Biscuit" CD/LP/Track Review Honey For The Biscuit
by James Nadal
Published: August 13, 2016
Read "Some Morning" CD/LP/Track Review Some Morning
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: March 2, 2016
Read "Need to Bring Out Love" CD/LP/Track Review Need to Bring Out Love
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 5, 2016
Read "Because I Love You" CD/LP/Track Review Because I Love You
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!