, the new CD by saxophonist Dave Anderson
’s like-named world-jazz ensemble, provides a joyous musical antidote to the wave of xenophobia washing over the West today. Formed in 2017, the multicultural band reflects the vitality and diversity of New York City
’s international creative music community. Melting Pot
will be released on September 14 by LABEL 1 Records.
“American culture has started to resist something that’s always been one of its strengths: bringing in people and their influences, seeing what they have to say, and blending these voices and ideas with our own,” says Anderson, a veteran of Gary Morgan’s PanAmericana big band and Memo Acevedo’s Manhattan Bridges Orchestra. “I wanted to make a project reflecting people and music I’ve been exposed to.”
In addition to Anderson, who plays alto and soprano saxophones on the album, Melting Pot includes Colombian-American drummer Memo Acevedo
; Venezuelan-American percussionist Roberto Quintero
; tabla artist Ehren Hanson
; sitarist and vocalist Neel Murgai
; Austrian-American bassist Hans Glawischnig
; Canadian pianist David Restivo
; British trumpeter Bryan Davis
; and Israeli flutist Itai Kriss
. The unit revels in the creative opportunities to find common ground through musical expression made possible by bringing together musicians who would not ordinarily collaborate.
“I wanted to celebrate specific musical styles brought from abroad to the U.S. by showcasing these styles in a new small jazz ensemble, while demonstrating jazz’s unique ability to fuse musical influences into a new and vital whole,” Anderson explains.
The new CD’s five originals, which intermix straight-ahead and Afro-Latin jazz with Indian ragas and traditional Jewish and Mongolian influences, demonstrate how musicians from different lands can weave disparate styles and experiences into a rich and seamless sonic tapestry.
The centerpiece of Melting Pot
, Anderson’s fourth album as a leader, is the three-part “Immigrant Suite,” with each section inspired by a real-life person embodying an aspect of the North American immigrant experience. It opens with “Juror Number 1,” written for a Cuban immigrant Anderson met during that most multicultural of New York City experiences: jury duty. “Querida,” with its samba rhythm first played on pandeiro, is Brazilian Portuguese for “Sweetheart.” Its inspiration was a Brazilian immigrant Anderson knew who referred to her closest friends in America using this term.
The suite’s finale, “A Candle for Isaac,” pays tribute to a man Anderson never met—his girlfriend’s father, who passed away in 2013. “He was an Indian Jew who came from Bombay and settled in Montreal,” Anderson explains. “Talk about a melting pot!”
Born (in 1966) and raised in Cloquet, Minnesota, Dave Anderson started playing saxophone in his school band at age 11 and eventually won awards as an outstanding high school soloist at area jazz festivals. While attending the University of Minnesota, where he earned a psychology degree, he spent much of his time in the music department and played in the university’s jazz bands and symphonic wind ensemble. Anderson won a full scholarship to the Aspen Music Festival, performing in a student ensemble that also included Clarence Penn, Ryan Kisor, Scott Whitfield, and Laurence Hobgood.
After a brief stay in Toronto, Anderson moved to New York, working as a jack-of-all-trades for Creed Taylor at CTI Records. In 2005, he relocated to Seattle and was active on the music scene there. He released his debut album, the quartet session Clarity
, in 2010, and Trio Real
in 2011. That same year he moved back to New York to reestablish himself and initiate new projects. His 2016 release Blue Innuendo
, an organ-jazz session featuring Pat Bianchi, guitarist Tom Guarna, and drummer Matt Wilson earned a rare 4½-star review from Down Beat from Bill Milkowski, who praised its “great chemistry, great playing and good vibes.”
Anderson’s work with Morgan and Acevedo has influenced his decision to explore world music more deeply, something reinforced by living in a true melting pot. “Here in New York I ride the subway every day; I see the Statue of Liberty from the Q train,” Anderson says. “I think about my ancestors coming to this place from Finland and Scandinavia. I see the great mix of cultures. I wanted to celebrate these different styles, collaborate with these different people I met, and say ‘Hey, let’s take what we’ve all got, bring it together, and maybe we’ll even create something new. But we know we’ll create something musical and something we can share for people to enjoy.’”
Dave Anderson & Melting Pot will perform a CD release show at the Zinc Bar, 82 W. 3rd Street, NYC, on Thursday, 9/6 at 7pm; $20 cover.