I am delighted and grateful to announce the release of two new recordings: my new chamber music CD, The Manual of Light; and Eric Dolphy Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions, which I co-produced with the wonderful Zev Feldman of Resonance Records. The release of both CDs will occur during the last week of November.
The Manual of Light (on Orenda Records) is a survey of my chamber music from the last decade with two versions of Amazing Grace. My fully notated arrangement of “Amazing Grace”(Version 1) was motivated by and dedicated to President Barack Obama, and the nine precious lives taken in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina. The names of those nine are Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Twanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson.
President Obama profoundly understood the historical and spiritual weight of the moment and during the funeral of State Senator Clementa Pinckney, being led by God, sang the perfect piece for that moment in time, “Amazing Grace.” My arrangement of “Amazing Grace” was initially written and premiered at the 2016 Spoleto Festival as part of a work by the brilliant Carrie Mae Weems, Grace Notes. Since the premiere, I have revised this work, including a second version of the arrangement with instructed improvisation. Many of the notated ornaments are derived from my many years performing a solo flute arrangement of “Amazing Grace.” My longtime collaborator and friend Grant Gershon beautifully conducted these arrangements. The string orchestra on the recording is made up of a powerful group of musicians who are as diverse as the Los Angeles basin.
The other soloists and ensemble on the recording are Allison Bjorkedal harp, The Lyris Quartet with bassist Eric Shetzen, Yegor Shevtsov piano, and Daniel Rosenboom trumpet. The CD surveys compositions that I have written during the last decade while I was also composing a massive trio of sacred works: my Mass, Saint Matthew Passion, and part three of the trilogy, Psalm 119.
The Manual of Light was recorded at UCLA’s state-of-the-art studio.
Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions is a rerelease of the Conversations of the Iron Man recordings, and eighty-five minutes of previously unissued takes, including Sir Roland Hanna’s “The Muses of Richard Davis,” a phenomenal duet with Eric Dolphy and Richard Davis.
These recordings and the placement of Eric Dolphy’s scores and letters at the Library of Congress marks the end of a long journey for my wife and me of placing materials given to me by my friend Juanita Smith. We worked with the Dolphy Foundation, the financial beneficiary of these recordings, who agreed with us to donate Dolphy’s letters to the Library of Congress. My wife Jo Ann and I had sincerely hoped that scholars and performers would access these ground-breaking scores to inspire performances, new books and scholarship on the art of Eric Dolphy. Hopefully, the update of the mono sound to current high audio sound will bring rich rewards to Dolphy connoisseurs.