The worlds of classical and jazz frequently intersect. Composers such as Igor Stravinsky and George Gershwin are known for incorporating jazz motifs into their work. In contrast, compositions by such jazz artists as Duke Ellington and The Modern Jazz Quartet often show the influence of classical music. With We Have a Dream, Brazilian guitarist and composer, Emiliano Sampaio offers a fresh collection of jazz works, unmistakably inspired by classical music.
Sampaio earned a music degree in Brazil, and later moved to Austria to complete a doctorate in composition. He has since worked as a composer, conductor, and arranger. He has eleven previous releases featuring a variety of musical combinations from small groups to big bands.
However, since he was a teenager Sampaio has always dreamed of writing music for a jazz symphonic orchestra; he accomplishes that with We Have a Dream. The album features an orchestra complete with brass, woodwinds, strings and percussion. Sampaio describes his approach to the music on this album by emphasizing the involvement of the players in the creative process. Although these are all his original compositions, "the musicians had almost infinite freedom to change, erase, recompose, adapt, and improvise the music to fit their own musicality."
This approach allows him to successfully blend the orchestral structure of classical music with the spontaneity of jazz. There is an obvious sense of vitality and presence evident from the opening track, "New Old Paths." This track features a classically-inspired introduction which transitions into a cool jazz groove. Although primarily recognized as a guitarist, Sampaio's vibraphone solo on this piece is impressive.
To simply label this album a fusion of jazz and classical would be doing it a disservice. Sampaio has much more at work. He incorporates a variety of jazz styles from straight-ahead to Dixieland and blues. Along with the jazz and classical underpinning, there are also hints of progressive rock and world music as well.
Some compositions, such as "Always Go Back" or "Dreamscapes," show George Gershwin's influence. Other pieces such as "Popping, Chopping and More" are reminiscent of what might be expected from a Wynton Marsalis performance with Jazz at the Lincoln Center. Some tracks, such as the title track, seem somewhat influenced by Frank Zappa's orchestral compositions.
While it might be tempting to play spot the influences, We Have a Dream is a completely original collection from an extremely creative, talented composer. Although the album has a track listing, the pieces transition seamlessly from one to another like movements in a symphonic work.
The title, of course, is an allusion to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, and Sampaio dedicates the album to the continuous struggle against racism and poverty. Perhaps he sums it up best when he says, "this kind of experience can provide a way of existing that is based on trust, collaboration, and serenity."
1. New Old Paths
3. Between Dances
5. Dry Soil
6. Always Go Back (to the Blues)
7. Popping, Chopping and More
11. Old new Paths
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