Christian Finger | Ananda

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Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Classical: String Quartet Moods: Type: Instrumental
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Ananda

by Christian Finger

Jazz/Classical/World music spirit inhabits every note of this joyous, expansive audio travelogue featuring world famous musicians: Jeff Ballard, Dave Stryker, Vadim Neselovskyi, Zach Brock, P. McCan, B. Harden, A. Armstrong, Mivos Str. Quartet
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. African Skies, Linear Lives
5:51 $0.99
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2. Truth Waltzed In
8:07 $0.99
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3. Interlude
1:32 $0.99
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4. Ananda
7:49 $0.99
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5. Nights Beyond, India
6:39 $0.99
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6. Two Faces
7:01 $0.99
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7. For Now
6:32 $0.99
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8. Secret Procession, Pt. One
10:44 $0.99
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9. Secret Procession, Pt. Two
1:55 $0.99
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10. Not Gone, Not Forgotten
3:01 $0.99
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11. African Skies, Drumming Lives: Boubacar's Sons
8:59 $0.99
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12. In's Weltenall 1: Into the Sky
6:02 $0.99
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13. In's Weltenall 2: Endless Stars
3:39 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Great reviews coming in:
http://www.examiner.com/review/ananda-blends-jazz-textures-and-world-beat-rhythms
http://www.acousticmusic.com/fame/p10158.htm
http://midwestrecord.com/MWR884.html
http://www.musiczoom.it/?p=21130
Please take a moment to listen a bit and read on. This is mesmerizing music, providing joyous "sonic travels"on our planet and beyond.
The album features amazing musicians from New York City: world renown Drummer Jeff Ballard (Chick Core/Brad Mehldau) in a never done before drum duo with me/ Dave Striker-guitar heavyweight/ Zach Brock-violinist w/ Stanley Clark & Snarky Puppy/ Vadim Neselovskyi-pianist w/ Gary Burton / Pete McCann-guitarist w/ Patti Austin/ Bobby Harden-vocals w/ the Orig. Blues Brothers Band/ Adam Armstrong-bassist w/ Kenny Kirkland /Kenny Wheeler & also the award winning 'Mivos' String Quartet...recorded by engineer extraordinaire James Farber at the famous Sear Sound Studios in NYC for an incredible sonic experience. Famous Jazz Author Bob Blumenthal writes:
"It takes an exceptional composer, leader and percussionist to conceive a program of such ambition and scope, much less to make it work. Christian Finger is all three in one person, and Ananda marks him as an exceptional and exemplary contemporary musician."
This album is called "Ananda" which means "The World is Bliss" in Sanskrit. The compositions reflect real and imagined experiences in places around the world; reminding us that we are not alone, and that the world is a blissful place if we allow ourselves to be open to it in the moment.
Ideas for compositions come from many different sources. Listening and analyzing the masters in all musical genres is a constant exploration for me. Experiences from everyday life in New York and abroad will spark an idea for a title, a rhythm or a mood that then is expressed through music. Art, architecture, and literature also provide continual sources of inspiration and ideas. The compositions in turn are diverse, ranging from fast paced and exciting, spontaneous and playful to slow and introspective.
One specific trademark of my compositions aims to explore the American Jazz tradition and combine it with a European sensibility. Thus the addition of a string quartet that not only masters the classical tradition, but has great strength in jazz and improvisation, namely the Mivos Quartet.
Another characteristic of my compositions is that, when writing, I take careful consideration of the specific sound each musician creates. I then tailor each part or voice so that each person has the opportunity to use his or her strengths. This allows the artists to create at their best, and results in a unique sound enhancing the intuitive and interactive playfulness of the band.
As I mentioned before, my aim is to combine jazz traditions with a European sensibility. Add to that my desire to create music that enables the musicians to perform at their best, and we create a union that is bigger than the individual. How to translate this in the music?
I use jazz, classical, rock elements and mix them with improvisation to create an intimate and personal atmosphere.
As stated above, this music is inspired by the the Sanskrit expression, “The World is Bliss.”
If one is open to it, it is my hope/aspiration that the music will transport the listener to an expanded state of consciousness, leaving him or her with the understanding that we are not alone, and to experience the world as a blissful place.
The band recorded one day before storm Sandy…Adam’s family evacuated while we were recording; the Subway system shut down-the assistant engineer had to leave; Vadim had a last bus to Boston to catch; the streets of NYC deserted in anticipation-and yet we played focused, pretty relaxed and made it happen, recording ten pieces of music in one day.
I sincerely hope you‘ll enjoy the music. Christian Finger
NOTES by FAMOUS JAZZ AUTHOR BOB BLUMENTHAL:

The concept of jazz as process, as a means of collective creation rather than a set of specific rhythms or riffs, keeps gaining traction in the 21st Century, and musicians such as Christian Finger are a major reason why. Finger was born in Germany; has lived in the Netherlands, Australia and the USA; visited over a dozen other countries and imagined other locales where his curiosity has taken him. He considers his third CD, Ananda, as less “standard jazz” than his previous collections Balance (recorded in 2000) and Merge into Beauty (2006-7); yet the jazz spirit inhabits every note of this joyous, expansive audio travelogue.
“I’ve been to about 18 countries in total,” Finger explains, “and wanted to reflect this in the music. Learning about and listening to the music of other places I’ve yet to visit inspired me to also include them as what at present are `imaginary’ places for me. The music is a journey, a document of the atmosphere and feel of life I experienced, a remembrance, and an indication that we are not alone. `Ananda’ is Sanskrit for `the world is bliss,’ which is what I wanted the music to convey.”
Finger sees his music as “combining the American jazz tradition with a European sensibility,” a synthesis he effectuates through the clarity of his writing, the wisdom he displays in selecting collaborators, and a sixth sense for pacing that allows electric guitars, a string quartet and African-inspired percussion to ebb and flow throughout the program.
The opening “African Skies, Linear Lives” establishes from the outset that we are on a different kind of journey. Inspired by Finger’s friend and former teacher Jeff Ballard, it depicts what Germans call the Urgrund – the ancient ground from which we all originate. A study in shifting rhythms with a complex middle section in 5/8 and 7/8, it begins with a crackling guitar solo by Pete McCann, a respected veteran of the New York scene whose skills far outweigh his celebrity. The mood evolves as Vadim Neselovskyi’s piano takes over, alone at first and then with mellower rhythmic support from Finger and bassist Adam Armstrong. This is the same rhythm section heard on Merge into Beauty, and its familiarity with Finger’s music is a critical element in the album’s continuity.
“Truth Waltzed In” adds a second guitar heavyweight, the more blues-inflected Dave Stryker, as well as the rising violin star Zach Brock. The peaceful melody and mood conjure Ruette, a small village in Germany’s Black Forest where Finger once lived in a 400-year-old house. “The village has strong roots in mysticism and Zen Buddhism,” he reports, “and was the home of [psychotherapist and Zen master] Karlfried Graf Durckheim.” While retrospective at the outset, the solos by Stryker and Neselovskyi propel the music into more dynamic realms before the energetic reprise of the theme.
Before the title track begins, Finger has inserted a composed interlude performed by the Mivos String Quartet. The idea is a carryover from Merge into Beauty, on which similar connective string passages begin with the last phrase of a preceding piece and morph into the music that follows. After consulting friend and great composer Carl Bettendorf on issues of string technique and dynamics, Finger wrote the interludes. “Once the ideas were there on the band tracks, writing the string arrangements was almost automatic,” he says, noting also that his love for the “honesty and clarity” of string quartet music may have been inherited from his grandfather, who was a great classical musician.
Then comes “Ananda,” with Brock’s violin in the lead and the string quartet offering support. Finger began composing the piece on the tenth anniversary of his move to New York, and intended it as “a reflection of those years and a look ahead to the places that lie beyond.” While Brock’s contribution is critical in capturing the expansive nature of these musings, the entire ensemble is totally attuned to the ebb and flow of Finger’s conception.
“Nights Beyond India” conjures a “land of polarities,” as Finger puts it. Inspired by his teenaged fascination with John McLaughlin’s group Shakti, and especially its virtuosic tabla master Zakir Hussain, the music rises from a measured opening to a buzzing chaos before catching its breath and settling into a strong rubato statement and gentle denouement. The band proves as fearless in its collective improvisation as it was precise in reading down the written parts, with Finger’s drumming critical to the seismic shifts.
“Two Faces,” a ballad with lyrics by the late Wanja Kam, Finger’s theory teacher at the Hilversum Conservatory, is a ballad that portrays what the drummer calls “a beautiful and difficult time” when a relationship ended in Amsterdam. Bobby Harden, lead singer in the Original Blues Brothers Band, is the vocalist. “I didn’t want to come across as a `supermarket of ideas’ and could have recorded `Two Faces’ as an instrumental,” Finger says, “but then I’d lose the specific experience involving my first girlfriend. I wrote the piece when I lived in the Netherlands, for a workshop that Wanja Kam directed. She was very supportive, and the song is a connection to her.
“For Now” is a straight-ahead celebration of New York’s jazz groove. Subtitled “When Sonny Meets Wayne,” the composition is a 12-bar non-blues, with a melody inspired by Rollins, harmony ala Shorter, and a bonus vamp from Cedar Walton. Both guitarists stretch out before Brock and Finger engage in a closely argued dialogue.
The two-part “Secret Procession” depicts an old remote village in Spain. Finger describes the scene as “deep at night, with every villager either participating on standing on the side, dressed in white and holding brightly lit torches.” Bassist Adam Armstrong is responsible for keeping things on course in Part 1 as Brock, Neselovskyi and McCann traverse the mythic terrain with fluid intensity. Part 2, in which the Mivos Quartet improvises with Finger, is the composer’s notion of what happens on the day after the procession.
“Not Gone, Not Forgotten” is through composed for string quartet and Finger’s homage to Mozart. Its mood of dark beauty represents the feeling of longing and loss that knows no specific geography. Given the groundwork laid by the previously kaleidoscopic music, it fits perfectly into Ananda’s program and provides another view of Finger’s compositional talent.
So does “African Skies, Drumming Lives/Boubacar’s Sons,” a duet with drummer Jeff Ballard that Finger describes as a “discussion” of some rhythmic fragments he created. The conversation begins with references to the opening “African Skies, Linear Lives,” then evolves into a tribute to Senegalese Sufi drum giant Boubacar Diagne. Ballard adds a fresh texture to the mix by putting a bass drum pedal on an instrument he found during a visit to Central America.
Another two-parter, “In’s Weltenall” (“Into the Universe”), concludes Finger’s globe-spanning program with a gesture toward the infinite. The first section, “Into the Sky,” features the Neselovskyi/Armstrong/Finger trio, which has a substantial history. “I met Adam a couple of months after I arrived in New York, and we immediately clicked,” Finger reports. “He’s from Australia, and people there had told me to look for him. I had already met Vadim in Germany, and once he moved to New York he became the pianist. I play piano myself, and am attracted to pianists like Vadim with thoughtful conceptions. And while I love the added colors and more open feeling that the guitars and violin bring to other tracks, I also love the piano trio and wanted to document our long history.
“`Space’ became the basis for both parts of the piece. In German, `s’ equals e flat, and since there is no musical counterpart to `p’ I substituted b and came up with a e flat/b/a/c/e phrase. `Into the Sky’ captures the sense of leaving earth as we know it and moving beyond. `Endless Stars,’ for the string quartet, is inspired by Alban Berg’s violin concerto and uses the same melodic material. The piece ends on b flat, the note in which the universe vibrates.”


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