Ellen Rowe Quintet | Courage Music (feat. Ingrid Jensen)

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Courage Music (feat. Ingrid Jensen)

by Ellen Rowe Quintet

Original jazz music with influences including Bill Evans, Pat Metheny and Herbie Hancock.
Genre: Jazz: Cool Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Circle of Life
7:28 $0.99
2. Leaves
7:21 $0.99
3. If Time Stood Still
6:11 $0.99
4. Golindrinas De Los Horcones
7:08 $0.99
5. Summit Dog
6:09 $0.99
6. All of You
6:15 $0.99
7. ... And Miles to Go, Pt. I
1:36 $0.99
8. ... And Miles to Go, Pt. II
6:24 $0.99
9. Calico Roses
7:49 $0.99
10. Gentle Spirit
8:17 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Courage Music Liner Notes

The phrase “Courage Music” comes from a poem written by my sister, Judy Michaels. The poem is dedicated to me and describes her fascination with the improvisation process and the courage she believes is required to be an improvising musician. As an incredible writer, poet, English teacher and fourteen-year ovarian cancer survivor, hers is the real courage, but I love the term and hope that the music on this CD honors her belief in me and the respect in which she holds the improvisation process.

The opening tune, “The Circle of Life” is an upbeat, joyful paean to life and probably reflects the influence of Pat Metheny, an artist and composer who I greatly admire. “Leaves” is Ingrid’s take on “Autumn Leaves” and allows everyone in the band to stretch out a little. Kurt Krahnke introduces this one with his beautiful unaccompanied bass solo. “If Time Stood Still” is dedicated to the memory of my mother and was written after learning of her Stage IV cancer diagnosis. She is also one of the most courageous people that I have known and infused my life with a love of nature, for which I am eternally grateful. This features the marvelously evocative clarinet work of Andrew Bishop.

“Golindrinas de los Horcones (The Swallows of the Horcones)/Summit Dog” is a
two-part suite written about my climb up Aconcagua, the 22,841 foot peak in the Argentinian Andes, highest in the Americas. The first piece was inspired by the sight of the Andean swallows soaring and diving over the Horcones Lagoon near the end of our climb and “Summit Dog” is a tribute to a wonderful dog we met at base camp on the way down the mountain. He routinely joined groups of climbers as they made their way up to the summit but I was happy to see him trotting alongside a group of muleteers on our way down, one of whom had decided to adopt him. The feel of the piece portrays his jaunty saunter as he made his way down the mountain.

“All of You” is one of my favorite jazz standards. Our version of it retains traces of treatments favored by Bill Evans and Miles Davis, but I have reimagined it with more contemporary harmonies, a different pedal point and a somewhat different mood. Ingrid and Andrew negotiate the treacherous changes with their usual grace and remarkable musicianship.

“…And Miles To Go” derives its title from the Robert Frost poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. The melody is derived from the scale degrees I assigned to a fundraiser number for the LiveStrong Foundation in order to be able to remember it! (85157853 – CGCGBCGE) I ran the New York Marathon as a fundraiser for the foundation and dedicated this piece to my sister and also to a friend who had recently died of cancer, Molly Sapp. It is scored for a larger ensemble of trumpet, alto, tenor and baritone sax and trombone and allowed me to utilize some of the marvelous students in our Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at the University of Michigan. The terrific saxophone solos are by Alekos Syropoulos and Yuma Uesaka.

“Calico Roses” is inspired by the Georgia O’Keefe painting, Cow Skull with Calico Roses. I love spending time in the southwest, where she had a home, and I attempt to catch the starkness of the landscape with the melodic and harmonic material of the piece. Once we hit the time feel, Pete fuels the band with his usual amazing swing and intensity.

The last piece on the album, “Gentle Spirit” is is a ballad that I wrote for my teacher, Rayburn Wright, after his untimely death in 1990. This rendition of it is particularly meaningful for me as it features a dear friend and fellow student of Ray’s, Paul Ferguson. Paul continues Ray’s legacy through his trombone playing, his teaching and his gorgeous compositions and arrangements. He is incredibly prolific, producing remarkable CDs of his big band pieces and I am very grateful that he was able to make the time to join me on this CD.


NEWS RELEASE Contact: Ann Braithwaite
(781) 259-9600

Triple threat pianist, composer and arranger Ellen Rowe
Is joined by trumpeter Ingrid Jensen for career masterwork,
Courage Music

To Be Released February 23rd on PKO Records

“While Ellen Rowe’s brand of modern jazz comes from delicately woven and colorful fabric, there's no lack of guile, inventiveness, or substance in it as well.” – Michael G. Nastos, AllMusic

“Immense talents as a composer and pianist." — Rufus Reid

"A strong conceptualist pianist and band leader." — Geri Allen

A personal triumph for a gifted pianist, composer and arranger at a new peak of creativity, Ellen Rowe’s Courage Music (February 23rd, PKO Records) is also renewed confirmation that inspired and vital jazz continues to spring from artistic outposts beyond those of a select handful of America’s major cities. Based in Ann Arbor, where she is Professor and Chair of the Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Rowe has performed with Kenny Wheeler, John Clayton and Tom Harrell, among others, and has also had her arrangements performed by the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Frankfurt Jazz Orchestra and the BBC Jazz Orchestra, as well as by Bob Brookmeyer, Marian McPartland and the Diva big band. The fourth of Rowe’s acclaimed recordings as a leader, Courage Music spotlights the dexterity of Rowe’s longtime ensemble – augmented here by the trumpeter and flugelhornist Ingrid Jensen – as well as Rowe’s skills as an adroit composer and arranger.

The album is expertly balanced by extended compositions that highlight Rowe’s mastery of form and textural color with concise performances that reveal the inventiveness and fluidity of the leader’s piano work and the invaluable contributions of guest trumpeter Jensen and the top notch local players who make up Rowe’s quartet -- the saxophonist and clarinetist Andrew Bishop, the bassist Kurt Krahnke and the drummer Pete Siers. Rowe met Jensen (who also makes a key appearance on Rowe’s 2009 Wishing Well album) at a Banff Jazz Workshop in 1990. “There was even less opportunity for woman jazz musicians back then, “ Rowe says, “We bonded there as players and friends, and over the years she has come to give classes at the University of Michigan. When it came to recording, I sensed that Ingrid would sound great with Andrew – and she does. Using two horns opened up sonic possibilities for me as a composer. With Courage Music, I’ve tried to investigate longer forms and to make use of my growing harmonic pallet. I love the sound that the group, with Ingrid, lends to my compositions. I can put the music in their hands and let it go.”

Inspired by both personal achievements and the cherished memories of departed loved ones, Rowe’s own compositions, including the romping “The Circle of Life,” the ambitious two-part “Golindrinas de los Horcones/Summit Dog,” the extended “…And Miles To Go” (featuring the University of Michigan’s Chamber Jazz Ensemble), and the touching ballad “Gentle Spirit,” (highlighting guest trombonist Paul Ferguson) form the album’s core. Rowe also tips her hat to the jazz tradition with a heartfelt (if ingeniously reharmonized) rendition of the Cole Porter standard, “All of You” and “Leaves,” an Ingrid Jensen composition that reworks the durable chestnut, “Autumn Leaves.” No matter the origin of the compositions, what comes through most clearly in each performance is the selfless role that the leader takes. Never overtly grabbing the spotlight with extended solos, Rowe allows the beauty and effortless swing of her succinct playing to make its own profound statement within the overall context of a work. Her distinctive abilities as a composer, arranger and bandleader remain ever in balance with that of her identity as an outstanding piano stylist.

Born in Connecticut, Rowe studied with famed pianist and pedagogue John Mehegan before entering Eastman School of Music where she continued studies with Bill Dobbins and Rayburn Wright. Rowe is now a Full Professor at the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theatre & Dance and director of the University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble. An avid athlete and sportswoman, Rowe has scaled Aconcagua, the 22,481-foot peak in the Argentine Andes, the highest mountain range in the Americas.



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