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Bassist/Composer Josh Ginsburg Celebrates Debut CD, "Zembla Variations"

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January 12 @ The Jazz Gallery, NYC, CD Release Party!
Sets at 9 & 10:30 PM
$15/10 members (1st set), $10/5 members (2nd set)

Featuring Josh Ginsburg—bass/compositions, Eli Degibri—saxophones, Danny Grissett—piano and Rudy Royston—drums

January 14 @ An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD, CD Release Party!
Sets at 8 & 9:30 PM
$20, $10 students

Featuring Josh Ginsburg—bass/compositions, Eli Degibri—saxophones, Danny Grissett—piano and Rudy Royston—drums

Brooklyn-based bassist and composer Josh Ginsburg is one of the most sought-after players on the New York jazz scene. He has performed and recorded across Europe, Asia, and the Americas with some of the greatest musicians of our time. Throughout Josh's bass playing with many different artists, certain qualities emerge as constants: a beautiful tone, a powerful rhythmic sensibility, a mastery of the musical language, and the open-hearted spirit of a true improvisor.

In addition to his international career as a sideman, Josh is also an emerging force as a bandleader and composer. Along those lines, Josh is proud to announce the release of his debut recording of all original compositions, Zembla Variations, featuring the amazing band of Eli Degibri on saxophone, George Colligan on piano, and Rudy Royston on drums. The album will be released by Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records on February 7, 2012. On this stunning recording Josh seeks new areas of unexplored musicality, yet he also brings to his music a deep love for our shared musical traditions of melody and song, rhythm, and drama.

Josh Ginsburg on Zembla Variations

I have lived in Red Hook, Brooklyn for the past five years. Aside from “Push Bar," all of the songs on this album were written in this period. In Red Hook there was, until recently, a small furniture company called Nova Zembla. In Nabokov's “Pale Fire," Zembla is a distant land that becomes less and less real (and more bizarre) as we learn more about it. It seemed obvious that the “new" Zembla must be Red Hook. This little neighborhood just across the water from Manhattan is also pretty unreal; a midwestern-like village with a view of the Statue of Liberty.

“Zembla Variations" was originally written as a chorale; it was composed as four independent voices without any preconception of the vertical harmonies. I think sometimes modern jazz can get preoccupied with static vertical harmonies, sometimes we forget that most of the great jazz is actually polyphonic. It's the individual voices—the melodic bass lines, the solo lines, the inner piano voices, even the drums, that move in, and out of, harmony in a constant flux that makes the music so compelling and alive.

The song is structured as a steadily building crescendo. This dictates the solo order- bass, piano, saxophone, with each variation adding greater intensity and denser orchestration. The final variation is Eli improvising over an additional melody that is doubled by piano and bass. With the bass dropping out of it's usual supportive role, this section becomes a twist on the “battling" saxophone and drum duos you often hear at the end of tenor solos. Eli really goes for it here, making it as big as possible before joining the melody at the very last second to finish the song.

Zembla is a great example of how Rudy really shapes these songs as a whole. Here the drums are liberated from the role as timekeeper—everyone can keep their own time! Instead, Rudy ensures that we don't get lost in the forest of musical detail, and points everything towards the overall musical shing, he floats over the complexity and picks his spots to dig in. On the head out Rudy really reminds everyone that a song like this is really all about the drums.

This story appears courtesy of Jason Byrne, Red Cat Publicity.
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

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