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Noah Baerman | Know Thyself

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Jazz: Progressive Jazz Jazz: Post-Bop Moods: Instrumental
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Know Thyself

by Noah Baerman

An album-length suite for septet that combines intimate musical storytelling with intense, dramatic modern jazz.
Genre: Jazz: Progressive Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Know Thyself
65:19 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The “Know Thyself” suite began as a proposal for Chamber Music America’s New Works grant program. Through the good fortune of receiving this grant, I have had the opportunity to explore the development of themes over an extended piece, something to which I have been drawn in works ranging from Beethoven’s Fifth to Charles Mingus’s The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady to the Who’s Quadrophenia. There are eleven themes, each one with a meaning beyond notes and rhythms, and they evolve and interact over the course of thirteen movements. I have deliberately strived for emotional resonance and sincerity, rather than shielding myself with the protective barriers of abstraction implicit to instrumental jazz.

When I took on the project, I intended for it to be a fairly conceptual examination of the human search for self-knowledge. I have always valued introspection, and through the years I have observed the impact of looking inward (or not) on people around me. I draw inspiration from people who have the courage to honestly re-examine themselves throughout adulthood, and on the other end I have seen sad and damaging patterns perpetuated by those who turn away from their inner truth. What I did not anticipate was that in between drafting the grant proposal and composing the music, my own life would be turned upside down several times over. I found myself having to dig deep to manage the present moment, while also needing to deal with some unaddressed baggage from my own past.

As a result, this suite’s initial goal of examining the generalized notion of seeking to know oneself necessarily gave way to a highly personal exploration of my own quest. I say “necessarily” because, having taken on this task in life, any other approach to this music would have been disingenuous. Having six fabulous musical collaborators at my disposal has afforded me the opportunity to explore a variety of textures, grooves and harmonic landscapes. More resonantly for me, though, they have given voice to this wordless narrative that explores a journey through suffering, fear, determination, faith and, ultimately, transcendence and wholeness.

Noah Baerman – piano, melodica, composer
Wayne Escoffery – tenor and soprano saxophones
Erica von Kleist – alto saxophone and flute
Chris Dingman – vibraphone
Amanda Monaco – guitar
Henry Lugo – bass
Vinnie Sperrazza – drums, marimba

“Know Thyself” was created with generous support from Chamber Music America’s New Works: Creation and Presentation Program, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Pianist Noah Baerman earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University, studying for six years under Kenny Barron. Noah’s widely acclaimed 2003 release "Patch Kit" raised funds and awareness for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder with which he was born. The album, featuring bassist Ron Carter and drummer Ben Riley, gained substantial press and radio airplay nationally and led to an appearance for Noah on Marian McPartland’s NPR program “Piano Jazz.” Noah’s fourth album, “Soul Force,” was released in 2005 and is a tribute to the life and message of Martin Luther King. “Soul Force” features his trio alongside a wide array of guest musicians including trombonist Robin Eubanks and saxophonists Steve Wilson, Jimmy Greene, Wayne Escoffery and Claire Daly. He followed that album with the 2008 trio release “Bliss” and the 2009 debut release by the collective quintet Playdate. Noah is active as an educator, teaching privately and at several institutions including Wesleyan University, where he directs the Jazz Ensemble. He has written nine books and an instructional DVD for the Alfred Publishing Company, including three-volume “Complete Jazz Keyboard Method” and the "Big Book of Jazz Piano Improvisation.” He is a prolific composer as well and in addition to this grant has earned such honors as First Prize for jazz in the Billboard Song Contest and the Unisong Contest.



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