Composer/saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli
offers a unique view on the evolution of musical and artistic ideas on his latest recordings: Shores Against Silence
. Recorded in 1992 and circulated only as an underground tape in the New York scene, Shores Against Silence
is being released commercially for the first time this November. Bookending a compositional arc that began 25 years ago, Zimmerli now revisits his early musical ideas in Clockworks
, commissioned by Chamber Music America, and to be released as a pendant CD in 2017. This two-CD conversation between past and present spans a quarter-century's worth of artistic exploration.
The music of Shores Against Silence
combines elements of jazz and 20th-Century music, exploring extremely complex rhythmic and structural concepts. It is both preoccupied with the jazz tradition and departing from it radically. This often extravagantly abstract music is always grounded in melody, and displays an interest in extramusical sources such as mythology, the visual arts, and literature. “The world of jazz at that time was sharply divided between jazz traditionalists and the downtown scene, which was centered around free improvisation,” says Zimmerli. “Neither camp knew what to make of my music.”
But the ensuing 25 years have seen tremendous changes in jazz, making Zimmerli’s highly complex approach to rhythm, harmony, and form more acceptable. “Shores is now more within the range of other jazz that exists. It makes more sense to bring this music out now than ever before.”
Zimmerli is joined by pianist Kevin Hays
, bassist Larry Grenadier
, and drummer Tom Rainey
. “Back in those days no one had the technical means to deal with these rhythms, harmonies, and pointillist lines, much less to know how to improvise over them,” says Zimmerli. “We were feeling our way, and we would practice for hours together.”
While not imitative, Shores
is directly rooted in the jazz tradition—swing plays a huge role, most explicitly in “Hephaestus,” “Athena” and “Soft Blues,” but also in the other pieces. At the same time its formal intricacy is often hidden, and the music can come off as having a very free sound. The central work of the CD, “The Paw,” was selected as the winner of the first annual Thelonious Monk Composers Competition in 1993. The title takes its name from the composer’s belief that the artist’s “paw” or imprint could and should still be meaningfully present in the creation of compelling new work. The common thread throughout Shores and all of Zimmerli’s work is a real commitment to exploring fresh possibilities. According to the Financial Times, “his motifs are meticulously developed and his textures atmospheric.”
Tracks: The Paw, Three Dreams of Repose, Hephaestus, Conceptualysis, Athena, Soft Blues. (38:01)
Performers: Patrick Zimmerli Quartet featuring Patrick Zimmerli (tenor saxophone), Larry Grenadier (bass), Kevin Hays (piano), and Tom Rainey (drums).About Patrick Zimmerli
New York- and Paris-based composer/saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli writes a sophisticated yet approachable hybrid of contemporary classical and jazz music. Recent collaborators include Joshua Redman
, Brad Mehldau
, Brooklyn Rider String Quartet, Brian Blade
, Luciana Souza
, the Knights Orchestra and the Escher String Quartet. His music has been performed at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Sala São Paolo in Brazil, the Vienna Konzerthaus Grosser Saal and the new SF Jazz Center.
Zimmerli has written numerous orchestral, chamber and choral works, including two four-movement Piano Trios for the Seattle Chamber Music Festival and two four-movement Piano Concertos with jazz percussion, written for the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra and pianists Ethan Iverson and Sonia Dubinsky. Zimmerli’s Aspects of Darkness and Light, an evening- length work commissioned by the Seattle Commissioning Club, was recently recorded by Joshua Redman, Brooklyn Rider, bassist Scott Colley and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi for Nonesuch Recordings (Warner). His Signs of Life was recently released on Deutsche Grammophon by French pianist Thomas Enhco and percussionist Vassilena Serafimova. Upcoming projects include a large-scale oratorio for male choir, operatic tenor, jazz percussion and piano on the work of Alan Seeger, to be premiered at the storied Invalides in Paris in 2017; and a collaboration with the Paris Percussion Group at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Zimmerli was awarded the 2015 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. He was also the winner of the CLICK People’s Orchestral Commission from the Colorado Music Festival. Other commissions have come from the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Colorado College Summer Music Festival, the Ying String Quartet, Brown University, violinist Timothy Fain, and the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music. From 2002-05, Zimmerli served as Composer in Residence with the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra. Awards include first prize in the first annual BMI/Thelonious Monk Institute Composers Competition. Zimmerli music has been featured in MoMA’s Summergarden series, at the Guggenheim Museum, on NPR and at the Jazz Composers Collective. His work has been recorded on the Naxos, Nonesuch (Warner), Blue Note, Arabesque, Antilles, Songlines, Jazz City and Naïve labels. Zimmerli is the curator of the IN/TER\SECT concert series at Bryant Park in Manhattan.