Sean Clapis | The Unseen River

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Jazz: Post-Bop Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz Moods: Instrumental
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The Unseen River

by Sean Clapis

This spirited album is the follow up to guitarist Sean Clapis' "Convergence" and his first since moving to New York in late 2011.
Genre: Jazz: Post-Bop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Analog Dog
6:10 $0.99
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2. Suleb
5:14 $0.99
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3. So Long Henry
6:00 $0.99
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4. Tabertune
6:06 $0.99
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5. Unseen River
4:08 $0.99
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6. Two Rooms
5:18 $0.99
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7. Isle of Fogo
8:31 $0.99
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8. Haiti Song
5:57 $0.99
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9. Respuesta
3:21 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
This spirited album is the second release by guitarist Sean Clapis and his first as a leader since moving to New York almost four years ago. I have known Sean since he was my student back in 2004. He embodies some of the most important values of RMI records: he is a soulful musician with a rigorous work ethic and a deep desire to make a positive impact on people.

Though The Unseen River contains material based on the philosophical (“The Unseen River”), the socially conscious (“Haiti Song”) and the reverential (“So Long Henry,” for Hank Jones), this isn’t a concept album per se. The broad intention is one of joy among the musicians and for the listener. Though some stereotypes may suggest otherwise, there is nothing about being musically serious and sophisticated (which these four gentlemen clearly are) that needs to create any inherent barriers to levity and direct, accessible communication. Sean and his talented quartet harness their years of hard work and study here to take you on an uplifting journey, and I trust that any open-hearted listener will enjoy going along for the ride.

-Noah Baerman (March 2015)



This is my first album as a leader since moving to New York, and my second effort as a leader overall. Since moving to New York almost four years ago, I've had the great fortune to play all over the country and the world, in front of audiences as large as 1,500 people, and as small as the bartender or the sound man. Some of these songs were written in New York and were informed directly by these experiences, some in Madrid, while others were written several years ago in my hometown of Hartford.

I guess I'm supposed to espouse some grand message as a send off for this album, but the truth is, I can't think of one. The main thing to take away is that the listener senses the sincere enjoyment and love that was put into making this music. Whether it was tubing down the Farmington River before a gig, trash talking to each other during a ping pong match in a New Britian basement, or singing in our best neo-soul falcetto in the studio, we felt joy. Under all the harmonic devices, rhythmic twists and often dense solos, we hope you feel that joy as well.

All too often, we commit to this idea that "serious music" is supposed to sound serious, that it is incompatible with levity, that it can't be entertaining. Whether that means the artists aren't supposed to entertain the crowd or the crowd shouldn't allow themselves to be entertained because they're too busy trying to "get" the music, we often experience a barrier. This imaginary wall between the artists and the audience can unfortunately lead to stagnation and complacency. It can suck the fun out of the music, it can suck the energy out of the performers. The sincerity and vulnerability born out of innumerable hours of practice can be lost upon the audience when the walls of expectation and formality are always present. I feel it's important to connect on a deeper level with your fellow musicians as well as the audience. Putting the music into context helps provide more insight for the listener and allows them to enter the mindset of the artist.

Untitled (analog dog)- I wrote this song back in college when I was going through a big Radiohead phase. I guess I'm still going through a Radiohead phase.

Suleb- An anagram of "blues", this is what happens when I try to write a blues. Apparently I can't just keep things simple.

So Long Henry- I wrote this tune for Hank Jones after he passed. I was fortunate enough to perform for him and watch him play. It's not every day you get to meet a legend.

Tabertune- Based on a groove cooked up by my friend Taber, a wonderfully inventive pianist. I recall late night jam sessions at a house he and some friends rented in Bloomfield. The house was haunted.

The Unseen River- Every river has its rhythm, which changes with the seasons, like the sections of the song. This song is about the Park River, which is in Hartford and is underground. No one can see it, but it's still there.

Haiti Song- I was inspired to write this song after the earthquake and subsequent humanitarian crisis in Haiti.

Isle of Fogo- The oldest song on this record and kind of a crowd favorite, Fogo is an island in the Cape Verdean archipelago in West Africa, a country I was fortunate enough to travel to and perform in some years ago. Fogo means fire in Portuguese, and the island is an active volcano. You dig?

Two Rooms- I wanted to write a song like an old fashioned Cuban Rumba or a Brazilian Choro. At least that's what I had in mind going in. My friend Cristina, a vocalist from Mexico, penned beautiful and personal lyrics to this song in Portuguese. Ask her about it sometime.

Respuesta- What can I say about respuesta? Respuesta is Spanish for answer. The youngest song on this record, I wanted to include one in which I sing. People tell me I should sing more, like my mother for instance. If you stay 'til the end of the gig, after I've had a few, I might open my pie-hole and serenade you.

-Sean Clapis (March 2015)




Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Sean Clapis began studying jazz guitar at the Academy of the Performing Arts High School in Hartford and at the Artist's collective, founded by Jackie McLean, under the tutelage of major jazz figures like Paul Brown and Jimmy Greene. In the summer of 2005, he was invited by the Center for Creative Youth to attend and perform at the “National Festival da Juventude” on the African island nation of Cape Verde. Upon receiving a generous scholarship from the Hartford Jazz Society in 2005, Sean earned his Bachelor’s in Music at the prestigious Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford. He graduated in 2009, training with notable masters such as Rene Mclean, Rich Goldstein, Steve Davis, Andy LaVerne, Joe Diorio and many others.

Over the next two years, he taught guitar and jazz theory at the Academy while performing frequently on the local music scene. While living in Connecticut, he participated in the Hartford International Jazz Festival, the Hartford Jazz Festival at Bushnell Park and the Silk City Arts Festival. In 2011, he moved to Brooklyn, where he began performing with "Carte Blanche", a unique revivalist jazz ensemble performing music from the 20s and 30s from around the world. He has also performed with the Spanish rock group "Tulsa" as well as with Alan Palmer's "New Soil Band", swing band "Fleur Seule" or Scott Bradley's "Postmodern Jukebox".

Leading his own projects as well as being a frequent sideman, he has performed extensively around the country and internationally at clubs, performance halls, festivals, and for royalty and heads of state. He has opened for artists like Soulive, Hank Jones, Jerry Bergonzi and Buena Vista Social Club. He currently resides in New York and performs regularly.

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