The Byrd/Chevan alliance becomes all the more provocative.... and essential. Reflecting the spirit of this ensemble, the music is an alchemist's brew of traditional Jewish songs, pieces by African and African- American artists, and Chevan compositions or arrangements . . . a recording rich with the spirit of shared experiences and true brotherhood in its execution, noble and thought provoking in its construction" --Willard Jenkins, from the liner notes
African-American pianist Warren Byrd and Jewish-American bassist David Chevan continue their exploration of the musical and spiritual nexus with a blazing new collection of original pieces and interpretations of classic pieces from the Jewish and African diaspora. On this, their third outing, pianist Warren Byrd and bassist David Chevan have released a CD that expands their vision of Jewish-American and African-American dialogue in ways that could hardly be expected. This album introduces not only a new conceptual approach for Chevan and Byrd but a new band, The Afro-Semitic Experience. Here the artists present a collection of music that embraces the secular along with the sacred experiences of their people. The eight pieces on the album expose the musicians to a wide range of pieces and genres from the blues to klezmer to sacred song.
The Afro-Semitic Experience is a collective ensemble of musicians dedicated to preserving, promoting and expanding the rich cultural and musical heritage of the Jewish and African diaspora. Imagine a band that understands and can present interpretations of music from traditions as rich as Gospel, Klezmer, Nigunim, Spirituals, and Swing and you have the Afro-Semitic Experience. This is a group that is as comfortable playing a freylakh as they are swinging a blues, that knows how to play either a bulgar or some funk. Multi-cultural soul. The band began performing in late 1999 as an off-shoot of the creative work of African-American pianist Warren Byrd and Jewish-American bassist David Chevan. This album represents a continuation of the work of Chevan and Byrd, but it also marks the first chapter in the story of an exciting new band.
On this recording the Afro-Semitic Experience includes:
Will Bartlett--tenor sax, clarinet, and piccolo
Alvin Carter, Jr.--drums and percussion
Baba David Coleman--percussion
Richard A. McGhee III--alto and soprano saxophone
Stacy Phillips--lap steel guitar, violin, and Harlow resonator guitar
This is the Afro-Semitic Experience was recorded at TapeWorks Studio in Hartford and mixed and mastered at Horizon Studios in West Haven, Connecticut. All of the engineering was done by Vic Steffens. The liner notes for the album were written by Willard Jenkins, one America's leading Jazz critics.
George Robinson of the Jewish Voice described Chevan and Byrd's 2000 album, Let Us Break Bread Together, as Communication on the most elemental level and yet, at the same time, the most elevated". John Barrett of www.JazzUSA.com wrote that"This sound, the common experience of two peoples, has a message -and beauty- for all people" and the French Jazz Magazine, Le Jazz Hot summed up the album in three words, Bref, c'est beau."
For more information about this recording or Reckless DC Music and it's catalog of music please contact David Chevan at 203-287-5446 or write to:
Reckless DC Music
P.O. Box 6183
Whitneyville, CT 06517
Web site: www.chevan.addr.com
David Chevan is the first-born son of a family of first-generation Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia. He was musically active from an early age and grew up in a Conservative-Egalitarian Jewish synagogue where he led services from the age of 10. Although much of his performing method on the double-bass has been self taught, Chevan studied briefly with Jon Deak and Victor Gaskin. He credits the master bassist, Lisle Atkinson with showing him the pathway to self- education. As a composer Chevan has primarily focused on works for improvisors. He has written works for a wide range of artists and ensembles, including several collaborations with dance and film. Chevan has had the opportunity to perform and record with a wide range of creative musical artists, including Ali Ryerson, Joe Beck, Jaki Byard, Harold Danko, Ellery Eskelin, Giacomo Gates, Frank London, Andrea Parkins, and Cookie Segelstein. He is alo an Associate Professor of Music at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. He holds a Ph.D in Music History from C.U.N.Y. and has published numerous articles on the history of early jazz, developed and taught courses on Jewish and African-American musical traditions and is currently studying the music of bassist Milt Hinton as well as a comprehensive study of Jazz Fake Books.
Warren Byrd is the youngest of a large fundamentalist music-imbued family. He started performing as a child, gaining extensive experience as an actor, a singer, and pianist, and absorbing a vast, A to Z variety of music. At age 18 he entered Hartt College of Music on full scholarship. He soon left to develop his own methods, emerging as a self-taught composer, arranger, pianist and lyricist, and subsequently, a celebrated New England Artist. Warren's extensive musical work includes directing Gospel choirs, composing for Theatre and Dance, and performing in all genres with some of the finest artists, including Archie Shepp, Jay Hoggard, Kwawaku Martin Obeng, Roseanne Vitro, and Saskia Laroo, and too many more to mention. Warren also accompanies dance and teaches in the Southern New England area. He has been nominated eight times as best keyboardist in the Hartford Advocate's Reader's poll, chosen as one of the top twenty-five pianists of the Thelonious Monk Institute's 1999 contest.
Will Bartlett has over twenty-five years experience as a professional musician and music educator. He studied with Jimmy Heath and Lew Tabackin and performed with Frank Foster, Lee Konitz, Slide Hampton and Roswell Rudd among many others. He leads his own group, Joy Spring as well as the Will Bartlett Ensemble. His family belongs to the Lebanese-American Christian community.
Alvin Benjamin Carter, Jr. (Babafemi) is a multi-percussionist who had his musical beginnings on congas and later added drum set and many other types of percussion to his list. He currently focuses on afrikan-american improvisational music but has been active in many different musical styles for many years. Alvin leads his own groups LEGACY: The Keepers of Tradition and The Alvin Carter Project. He also performs with Rafiki, which is led by Alvin Carter, Sr.
Baba David Coleman is an African drumming Master. He was born in New York and has spent the better part of his adult life traveling and performing. He recently moved to New Haven where he quickly established himself as a leading figure in the local African drum world. He has studied with Baba Femi and continues to be a disciple of the legendary Chief Bey, the oldest African- American hand drummer.
Richard McGhee III is a composer/multi-reed instrumentalist. He leads his own group, Trytone, and performs with Anthony Braxton. His approach to music is grassroots" composition. In keeping with the Bolden and Ellington Schools of composition his work reflects two major components: (1) Works composed with and for specific performers and, (2) Works which have been inspired by the human condition" in the United States and the African Diaspora.
Mixashawn.com has performed and recorded with some of the most influential artists of our time, including Bobby McFerrin, Rashied Ali, and Ronald Shannon Jackson. This Jazz artist, composer, and educator comes from a multi-cultural musical legacy that spans 4 centuries and both sides of the Atlantic. He is, in fact, a 21st century Griot, ...decode the equation."
Stacy Phillips is a steel (slide) guitarist and violinist. He was featured artist on the 1996 Grammy award winning album, The Great Dobro Sessions. He has performed and taught around the world and has more than 25 books and videos to his credit, including Mel Bay's Klezmer Collection. He knows someone who spoke to Bob Dylan.
Ben Proctor was born and raised in Connecticut and currently lives in New York City where he performs as a singer, composer, trumpeter, guitarist, and leads the country and bluegrass-inspired rock band JIMSONWEED. His current work as a songwriter explores the roots, tradition, and political context of American folk music.