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New Sunnyside Records CD Release Features Corea, Byron And Klein

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This new and musically diverse CD Infinite Winds features three long form compositions by three innovative and highly regarded composers: Guillermo Klein, Chick Corea and Don Byron.

Dedicated to the late great jazz trumpeter Herb Pomeroy, who taught at MIT for 22 years (and founded the FJE in 1963), Infinite Winds features world première recordings by both Corea—an iconic keyboardist, composer, and bandleader who has won 22 Grammy Awards—and Byron, a critically acclaimed clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer as well as the winner of the first Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.

Klein’s “Solar Return Suite" and Byron’s “Concerto For Clarinet and Wind Ensemble" feature renowned soloists, saxophonist Bill McHenry and clarinetist Evan Ziporyn, respectively. The three works were commissioned and performed by the Festival Jazz Ensemble and the Wind Ensemble from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both ensembles are directed by Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr.

Klein’s “Solar Return Suite"

Guillermo Klein, a jazz pianist and bandleader as well as a critically acclaimed composer, is a former student of Pomeroy. Klein’s collaboration with Dr. Harris began in the mid-1990s when Klein was living in Boston working with big bands. It was only natural that Harris would reach out to Klein and commission a piece for his Wind Ensemble at MIT. Klein composed a work in seven movements entitled Solar Return Suite, his first and only composition for wind ensemble. The work was recorded live in May 2006 and features a beautiful, largely improvised saxophone performance by Bill McHenry, a regular collaborator with Klein.

Solar Return Suite drew inspiration from a number of sources. Klein utilized a symmetrical diminished mode (or octatonic scale) that he found repeatedly in the work of one of his favorite composers, Olivier Messiaen. The same mode can be found in composers as diverse as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Lastly, Klein drew inspiration from the Cátaros (or Cathars), a heretical Christian movement with roots in Byzantine Anatolia that was viciously suppressed by the Roman Church. The Cathars believed there were two principles, good and evil. Good was represented by the God of the Old Testament, while evil was represented by Satan and his creations, including the human body. Salvation was achieved through consolamentum, a ritual baptism by fire instead of water, allowing the spirit to escape the body.

Corea’s “From Forever"

Pianist/composer Chick Corea has had a long and illustrious career as a jazz performer and conceptualist. His MIT connection goes back to his teen years when Corea played trumpet and piano in a jazz sextet he formed with MIT students. It was Herb Pomeroy, founding director of the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, who offered Corea his first professional club gig as a bandleader, opening for the Herb Pomeroy Big Band. It was in tribute to Pomeroy and the 50th Anniversary of the MIT jazz program that Corea composed From Forever (Suite for Big Band Dedicated to Herb Pomeroy).

Byron’s “Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble"

Clarinetist/composer Don Byron has been an eclectic music stylist and innovator since the early 1980s. From jazz and modern classical to hip-hop, Byron has brought a unique audacity that has won him fans worldwide. It was no surprise that his Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble would be inspired by the esoteric film and television scores composed by Leonard Rosenman. The Brooklyn born composer was well known for his scoring work for films like Barry Lyndon and Bound for Glory but might be best known for writing the theme to the television show Combat!

It was Rosenman’s dramatic flair along with Byron’s appreciation for the Second Viennese School military music and the 20th Century modernists’ developments in writing with clustered, tenseness that informed the writing for the Concerto. Direct references to marching music were written into the three movements, which provide a fantastic setting for solo clarinet, performed here by clarinetist and composer Evan Ziporyn, Professor of Music at MIT.

The MIT Jazz and Wind Ensembles

The FJE was established by the great trumpeter/bandleader/educator Herb Pomeroy in 1963, while the MITWE was established in 1999 by Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr., who now directs both ensembles. The groups are made up of undergraduate and graduate students from MIT and have been instrumental in performing new compositions from a broad range of composers.

The MIT Wind and Festival Jazz Ensembles’ recording Infinite Winds presents a wonderfully broad range of musical styles from composers who have surpassed the limits of jazz and modern classical composing.

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