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Sam Boshnack Quintet | Nellie Bly Project

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Nellie Bly Project

by Sam Boshnack Quintet

An illustrative and evocative musical portrait of a 19th-century daredevil feminist and journalist, the album moves between the narrative and abstract, creating an imaginative world that channels Bly’s groundbreaking spirit.
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Expositions
7:22 album only
2. After One Is in Trouble
10:18 album only
3. 72 Days
10:50 album only
4. Legacy
5:28 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“Fresh, smart, and bold describe Samantha Boshnack’s Nellie Bly Project. Inspired by the pioneer female American reporter from the late 1800s, Boshnack weaves significant quotes by the journalist into a shifting musical tapestry. Bly (aka Elizabeth Cochran) defined a true woman as “innocent, unaffected, and frank.” While Boshnack’s sound embodies more life experience than what could be described as innocent, listeners will hear an unaffected and frank approach to writing, improvising, and recording…. Boshnack’s music stretches and sings with refreshing strength.” – Steve Griggs, Earshot Jazz.

Seattle-based trumpeter, composer, and bandleader, Sam Boshnack returns with her most revealing work to date on the ARC label. "Nellie Bly Project" (ARC-2772) by the Sam Boshnack Quintet highlights the biography of the American journalist, Nellie Bly, who lived from 1864 to 1922. More than a jazz suite, it’s a tone poem of salient impulses ensuring remembrance of Bly’s accomplishments. Despite being composed amid today’s political turmoil, "Nellie Bly Project" (ARC-2772) speaks about universal truths that were as important at the time of this trailblazing woman as they are today. Boshnack has assembled a cast faithful to the work. Featured are clarinetist Beth Fleenor, keyboardist Alex Chadsey, bassist Isaac Castillo, and drummer Max Wood. All are masterful artists. Excerpts from Bly’s writings appear throughout the four musical movements, spoken by actress Anne Whitfield, and sung by guest vocalists Valerie Holt, Anne Mathews, and Boshnack herself. Boshnack recalls having been fascinated with Bly’s exploits since an early age. This fascination shows in her narrative approach to composing and orchestrating these tracks for the record. The opening movement, "Expositions," offers the refrain, “innocent, unaffected and frank," which is Bly’s characterization of what she saw as a “true woman." That expressed theme establishes a respectful mood in the musical delivery. Exploring the erudite passion that fueled Bly’s personality, Boshnack says the track also underscores the power of persistence, which is defined musically by a tight rhythmic core and stylistic integrity. Fleenor’s bass clarinet and Castillo’s arco bass paint a restless, almost cinematic picture, evoking remembrance with fortitude. The combination of voices and instruments used in the orchestration of the music reflects various influences across the continuum of time. From the first note, it’s clear that Boshnack's quintet is interested in the substantive engagement of Bly as a historical figure. This is demonstrated by Boshnack’s soloing in the more intimate free-associations of "After One Is In Trouble." "Nellie Bly Project," says much within the immediate constraints of genre and medium. Bly went so far as to labor alongside women in factories to understand their working conditions and even braved the risks of an undercover assignment as an insane asylum patient. In the same way that Bly immersed herself in her stories, Boshnack draws on an intrepid spirit as a composer and arranger to make this music a tangible reality. Boshnack makes this point clearest in "72 Days," a composition that takes its cue from Bly’s famed race around the world to beat Jules Verne’s fictional record. In Boshnack’s re-contextualization of this work, there is a new conviction, along with a recollective aural depiction of Bly’s transports of choice—the railroad and steamship—evoked in the arrangement. Focusing on the unconquerable attitude toward life and the high standards Bly adhered to, the album ends with our thoughts of her "Legacy." The finale opens with a splash of positivity from the full band. Anchored by Chadsey’s pianism, Boshnack’s music gives Nelly Bly a platform from which to speak to a new generation. From conceptualization and final production to commercial release on the Artists Recording Collective label, "Nellie Bly Project," offers an approach that rewards listeners by its many facets. Not only does it paint a portrait of an often overlooked historical figure, but it also reaffirms the talents of Boshnack. The Sam Boshnack Quintet forge a musical path that is confident, poignant, and above all, welcoming of all who would benefit from walking it with her.
Samantha Boshnack trumpet & vocal
Beth Fleenor clarinet & bass clarinet
Alex Chadsey piano & keyboards
Isaac Castillo upright & electric bass
Max Wood drums
Valerie Holt and Anne Mathews vocals (tracks 1 & 3)
Anne Whitfield spoken vocals (tracks 2 & 4)
Recorded by Floyd Reitsma at Studio Litho, Seattle, WA
Mixed by Evan Schiller at zulusound, Seattle, WA
Mastered by Ed Brooks at Resonant Mastering, Seattle, WA
Album artwork by Steven Arntson
Album design by Anne Mathews



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