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Solar | Suns of Cosmic Consciousness

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Suns of Cosmic Consciousness

by Solar

Solar is steeped in every avenue of jazz improvisation. With roots in swing, free improvisation and world music, Solar is just as likely to play original revolutionary sambas and Indian and Middle Eastern influenced material.
Genre: Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Samba De Aztac
7:17 $0.99
2. Reincarnation 1968
5:04 $0.99
3. Remember Rockefeller At Attica
5:57 $0.99
4. In, Out
2:46 $0.99
5. Waltz On The Hudson
6:49 $0.99
6. Rhythm - a - ning
5:37 $0.99
7. Perk Up - for Walter Perkins
4:58 $0.99
8. September Song
4:59 $0.99
9. Prototype For Constructive Dialogue
6:27 $0.99
10. Solar 2002
2:37 $0.99
11. Come On
3:59 $0.99
12. Love In Outer Space
4:02 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Solar is the cooperative trio of pianist Eli Yamin, bassist Adam Bernstein and drummer/saxophonist/percussionist Andy Demos. They explore an expansive galaxy of modern jazz reflecting the myriad musical influences of its members.

"Solar is one of those rare ensembles that brings genuine fervor and kinetic energy - the kind usually associated with the best rock-to modern jazz," wrote George Kanzler in the Newark Star Ledger.

The band's debut release, Suns of Cosmic Consciousness, mixes the music of Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Sun Ra and its own members with the exciting rhythms of Africa, Brazil, Cuba and India in a stimulating mélange that radiates with a powerful originality. The album was co-produced with longtime friend and collaborator Marty Beller, drummer for They Might Be Giants.

Solar has been together, exploring and expanding the jazz tradition in its own innovative way, for fifteen years. They begin their musical relationship at Rutgers University in 1988 where they were ever present on the New Brunswick scene. The weekly engagements at the Court Tavern and the Old Bay and later at Deanna's in NYC were always packed and the music was electric, experimental and unpredictable - but always accessible.

Solar regularly explores the traditional jazz canon but has also easily incorporated Shakespearean theatre, political poetry and modern dance. Many special guests have sat in with Solar over the years including Perry Robinson, Dave Douglas, Walter Perkins, Noel Scott (Sun Ra), Deanna Kirk, Frank Lacy, Ravi Best, Greg Wall, Mark Whitecage and many others.

Solar has been based in NYC in recent years playing premiere jazz clubs including Sweet Rhythm and Cornelia Street Café. Twice Solar was the opening act for Sun Ra. In 2005, Solar teamed up with award-winning baritone saxophonist Claire Daly for her CD, Heaven Help Us All.

Solar plays jazz that is accessible without compromises. The group invites you to enjoy all that is precious about life and music. These musicians play their brand of explosive, intuitive and passionate jazz. In a world where long-term musical relationships are hard to develop, Solar takes pride both in their longevity and musical friendship. Their commitment to communication between the players and the audience reaches out to listeners both inside and outside of the jazz world, providing positive energy in today's challenging times. Suns of Cosmic Consciousness shows that the music of Solar is truly the jazz of now. And the future.



to write a review

Jazzitude - Marshall Bowden

a remarkable CD
Solar’s Suns of Cosmic Consciousness is a remarkable CD, fusing elements
of post-bop, fusion, modal, and free jazz into a very satisfying and
surprisingly cohesive listening experience. Tracks that begin as one
thing often end up as something completely different. For example, the
opener, bassist Adam Bernstein’s composition "Samba De Aztac" starts off
with a Pharoah Sanders/Alice Coltrane drone intro before bursting into a
driving number reminiscent of some of Chick Corea’s Spanish-themed
numbers. Along the way listeners will forget the expectations they came
to the recording with and just follow the group’s exquisite
improvisational forays. Just as one gets used to the group as a straight
ahead acoustic jazz trio, comes "Reincarnation 1968," composed by
pianist Eli Yamin. Yamin sets an impressionistic tone that is then
supported by percussionist, drummer, and tenor saxophonist Andy Demos’
tabla work. Yamin and Bernstein provide some vocal backing (aided by
Kate McGarry and Jane Kelly Williams), allowing Bernstein to float in
and out of the spaces until at last a funky figure is outlined by piano
and bass.

The group does a nice job as well with Mingus’ "Remember Rockefeller at
Attica," essentially a showcase for Yamin, though Bernstein and Demos do
an excellent job of negotiating the piece’s constant shifts in tempo and
mood. Despite some of the fusionary trappings of the CD (the cover
photos, some of the song titles) this is really an excellent acoustic
jazz trio recording by a group that is able to vary its sound and
texture by using voice and changes in instrumentation. Yamin and
Bernstein are the chief composers here, with Demos offering an
arrangement of Kurt Weill’s "September Song." On "Waltz on the Hudson"
Yamin suggests, at times, the romantic, Bill Evans-inspired approach of
Vince Guaraldi’s early recordings. "Solar 2002" on the other hand, moves
from a tightly constructed head to a brief foray into free
improvisation. Well worth checking out.

Jazz Not Jazz

the perfect album if you’re looking for a pure jazz album
Finally a review of a straight-ahead jazz record on jazz-not-jazz. Although the members of Solar (Eli Yamin (piano), Adam Bernstein (bass), and Andy Demos (drums, sax, percussion) have been playing together since the late 1980s, they have just released their debut album Suns Of Cosmic Consciousness.
As I’ve mentioned in my article about Alice Coltrane my love for instrumental jazz wasn’t there from the beginning but something I’ve acquired over the years. And records like Suns Of Cosmic Consciousness remember me why I began to fall in love with instrumentals. Here you have a great mixture of raw energy, talented musicians and audible joy of the musicians playing their music.
Listen to the album’s opener Samba De Aztac for example. This original composition by Adam Bernstein bursts with energy thanks to Andy’s drum playing and Eli’s memorable piano lines on top.
Reincarnation 1968 takes you on a more spiritual trip with its Hare Ram chants, while the cover of Charles Mingus’ Remember Rockefeller At Attica from his Changes One album (1975) starts with a wild piano intro before turning into a swinging track that features great bass playing by Adam Bernstein.
Bernstein’s own In, Out is a slow, late-night jazz tune with fine interaction of bass, piano an brushworks.
Waltz On The Hudson, composed by Eli Yamin, is a very pleasant mid-tempo track that also gives way to solos of the three Solar musicians. A perfect tune for starting a lazy Sunday at home.
Monk’s Rhythm-a-ning gets a groovy remake with plenty percussion by Andy Demos. Kurt Weill’s September Song, intended by the group as a memorial to the tragedy of 9/11, captures perfectly the sadness and confusion that is related to this date.
Original compositions like Perk Up - For Walter Perkins or Prototype For Constructive Dialogue are further proof of Solar’s tightness and musical understanding as a band.
There’s also one funky vocal track here. Come On, a cover of the Earl King song, features Eli Yamin singing over some fierce, wicked bass playing by Adam Bernstein.
One of my favourite songs on Suns Of Cosmic Consciousness is the album’s last track, an emotional touching cover of Sun Ra’s Love In Outer Space.
To sum it up, Suns Of Cosmic Consciousness is the perfect album if you’re looking for a pure jazz album you can play over and over again and that let’s you discover new aspects with every listening.

Elliot Simon

Due to our frame of reference, the path of Mercury's solar orbit appears to retr
Due to our frame of reference, the path of Mercury's solar orbit appears to retrograde. Zoom out and this backward movement disappears as it becomes clear that Mercury's orbit is closer to the sun than Earth's. Frame of reference and perspective are powerful in coloring our conscious thought. As primarily three dimensional organisms, humans have difficulty conceptualizing dimensions such as time as anything other than linear. Dramatic shifts in reference can aid in altering these linear perceptions. Music can effect just such a change in reference. It is from within and without this perspective that Solar gives up the Suns of Cosmic Consciousness.

Solar played routinely in the East Village during the '90s and authored a musical collaboration with clarinetist Perry Robinson. Here, they intersperse original compositions by pianist Eli Yamin and bassist Adam Bernstein among Mingus, Weill, Monk and Sun
Ra. The trio, rounded out by percussionist/tenorman Andy Demos, zoom in and out and with ease. The overall feel is one of '60s socio-politico ethos coupled with a post modernist genre slipping approach that can take on jazz/rock fusion, swing, modern jazz, bop and much else.

Things begin with the Latin cooker "Samba de Azteca" that draws its energy from a Bernstein trip to El Salvador followed by Yamin's "Reincarnation 1968" in which he couples his wonderfully elegant piano with Hare Ram chanting. Yamin then morphs avant into tongue-in-cheek lightheartedness as he and Mingus "Remember Rockefeller at Attica" before an effortlessly lovely straightahead "Waltz on the Hudson". Additional pieces bring new perspectives to late drummer Walter Perkins, pianists Bley and Monk and blues guitarist Earl King with his "Come On" presented complete with vocals. Kurt Weill's "September Song" serves as a discordant tribute to the horror of 9/11 before the original Sun of cosmic
consciousness, Ra, inspires a final menage á trois with
his "Love in Outer Space".

Audiophile Audition

This CD should appeal to many younger people just dabbling in jazz for the first
This dynamic trio creates a lot of sound when needed, but is assisted here and there by a couple guest vocalists and a percussionist. Solar's goal is to recognize the whole history of the music, and the extreme diversity of their offerings seems to be doing that with gusto. You'll hear a Mingus tune with a protest message in its title, another harking back to Country Joe & the Fish, a Monk standard, a jazz waltz in the style of Randy Weston, and a very moving version of Kurt Weill's September Song which the band says is their reflection on 9/11. And the celestial concert is closed out with who else by Sun Ra. This CD should appeal to many younger people just dabbling in jazz for the first time, and miraculously it's been done without hip-hop, turntablists or funk. Thank God.

Randy McElligott

An Orgy of Sonic delight
Solar is a group of musicians with great musical depth and vision. Suns Of Cosmic Consciousness features originals as well as time honored classics. When listening to this trio, one would swear that there were more instruments taking part in their musical journeys. The music is vibrant, exciting, and well executed.

Rhythm and drive abounds on the fast paced Samba De Aztac. Reminiscent of Chick Corea at his best, the trio digs into the melody with gusto and determination. Yamin's lyrical piano sets the stage for the rest of the trio to follow. Demos is as solid as can be throughout. Bernstein's Haden like drive is much appreciated.

Charles Mingus originally recorded Remember Rockefeller At Attica on his classic Atlantic release Changes One. Solar take the melody and twist it every which way resulting in an orgy of sonic delight. Right away it is evident how well the trio's cohesiveness pays off. They play like a well oiled machine with passion to burn.

In, Out is a sweet melody featuring the softer side of the trio. Bernstein's fingers cry on the strings. Demos's sensitive brush work as well as Yamin's subdued piano bring this all too short number to a peaceful close.

The bands treatment of Monk's Rhythm-A-Ning is a dark and cautious exploration with rolling drum swirls and Yamin's possessed keyboard work. Always aware of the melodic intensity that was there when originally composed, everyone has a hand at exploring the different regions, and crevices. It's a joy to listen to this reworked version because the group is having a great time playing as a unit as well as bouncing ideas off one another.

Yamin's sensitive reading of Kurt Weill's poignant piece September Song illustrates how in touch he is with his creative side. Each note caressed gently, playing in and around the note. The atmosphere builds into an exercise of free form playing while the melody is always close at hand. Beautiful support from the rest of the band.

Love In Outer Space is one of those "feel good" kind of tunes that was written by Sun Ra. One feels a sense of spiritual reawakening and refreshment after just one listen. If there was one word to describe this piece it would be freedom. Freedom to move. Freedom to express, and Freedom to love. Sun Ra left us a great legacy of music and it is fitting that Solar would end the journey with this piece of music.

From beginning to end, Suns Of Cosmic Consciousness is a satisfying listen on many levels. Each musician is able to not only get into the spirit of each selection but even more so, their ability to perform as a group speaks volumes in relation to what the future holds. Solar have the potential to continue to expand their ideas in future releases.

John Chacona

... full of surprises....
... a pared down Liberation Music Orchestra....Jaki Byard trio.....and the Bad Plus....
this CD is full of surprises, and they keep you listening...

Kennet Egbert

enjoy the aural view
Good stuff, even if it isn't necessarily what I expected when I saw the CD cover, a montage of the band members under red spotlights, hard at work. Look at the title and one might think, "Get your oxygen mask on--time to get on outside with Outer Spaceways Incorporated!" But though the much-missed Sun Ra's "Love in Outer Space" is covered here, there's a much more in feel, however elastic it might be.
Mingus's "Remember Rockefeller at Attica" gets a rootsy bit of a go, the band underlining Le Grand Charles's debt to Cole Porter in the melody (you'll figure out what song).

Skip ahead a few tracks to Yamin's original, "Waltz on the Hudson," and you'll wonder what Marx Brothers movie this bouncy lovesong melody is in. Classic pre-Tin Pan Alley, and delightful support from Demos's tubs. I also can't fault Demos's literate snare work during a jolly run-thru of Monk's "Rhythm-a-ning."

If Solar has any main connotation I'd say McCoy Tyner's mid-to-late 1960s trios--you know, before he started using those muscular Jacob's ladder left-hand vamps he was into for a while.

Bernstein's "Samba de Aztac," this CD's opener, starts with some of that Lonnie Liston Smith cascading piano and drums, downshifting smoothly into a bopping continuum made to show off Yamin's very estimable chops. In fact, the take of Kurt Weill's "September Song" makes me think of one method Tyner might have used to cover it, though to my mind I don't recall if he has yet. A lot of what-ifs here, all diverting.

It's only fair to mention Bernstein's cheerfully plump bass extensions, on best display during "Rockefeller" (appropriately enough) and the stupefyingly in take of the Ra song. Well, we remember how Sonny Blount decided in his later years that it was time to bring the Arkestra back into orbit about Earth again (you can only write "The Utter Nots" once), but I would never have expected anybody to rescore "Love" to the point that Bill Evans might have used this arrangement. Very nice! Jazz is the sound of surprise, after all (thanks, Whitney Balliett), and that track is the most notable of the new year.

I don't know how far out Solar is actually capable of getting, but you will enjoy the aural view from here.
Kennet Egbert - Jazznow.com

Nate Dorward

this one keeps you guessing
This one keeps you guessing: what on earth will the next track be like? It gets off to an uneven start: “Samba De Aztac” (a tribute to a Salvadoran artists’ collective) is a tad bombastic, and I’m not so sure about “Reincarnation 1968,” either, an homage to 1960s counterculture featuring a vocal chorus of “Hare Ram” and nods to Pharoah Sanders and Country Joe and the Fish. But then the album settles down with a jaunty reading of Mingus’s “Remember Rockefeller at Attica ,” and following a pair of nice originals there’s a memorable take on Monk’s “Rhythm-a-ning,” with pianist Eli Yamin injecting stealthy commentaries into drummers Andy Demos and Marty Beller’s doublebarrelled groove. Weill’s “September Song” becomes an unusually effective 9/11 memorial, the melody slowly buried under tremulous layers of dissonance, in the manner of a Crispell ballad performance. There’s nothing earthshaking here, perhaps, but it’s hard not to like an album which can jump from “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)” to Sun Ra’s “Love in Outer Space,” and whose program includes a blues in honour of the late great Walter Perkins.

All About Jazz - John Kelman

... spirited interplay, vivid imagination and powerful intention.
 CD Review More than ever before, the younger generation of jazz players emerging are incorporating influences far and wide. While new forms of jazz have always revolved around taking earlier forms and moving them forward, never before have the number of musical choices been so great as to engender an unprecedented eclecticism. Groups like Sweden s E.S.T. incorporate subtle shadings from electronica, even while they are influenced in a big way by European impressionism and the music of Keith Jarrett -- representing a lack of purity that Jarrett, himself, would find completely objectionable, yet resulting in a distinctive group sound where the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.  Solar -- the trio of pianist Eli Yamin, bassist Adam Bernstein and percussionist/saxophonist Andy Demos -- has an even more panoramic view. One doesn t have to hear their African-informed interpretation of Rhythm-a-ning to know that their occasionally idiosyncratic approach owes a certain debt to Thelonious Monk. And while their interpretation of Charles Mingus Remember Rockefeller at Attica, features an intro that is more Cecil Taylor than Don Pullen, by the time they are into the meat of the tune, they are blending a clear knowledge of Mingus with a slightly skewed sense of rhythm that sounds distinctly retro and, at the same time, current. Yamin s Waltz on the Hudson is more straightforward, with the kind of grace the exhibits a clear link to Ellington, and the kind of physical swing that could only come from some serious time wood-shedding the genre.  And jazz isn t their only source of inspiration. Their version of Earl King s R&B hit, Come On, might be considered faithful if it weren t interpreted as a vehicle for only drums, bass and voice. Yamin s own Reincarnation 1968, with its kirtan chanting harkens back to a hippie era long past when, at best, Yamin, Bernstein and Demos were toddlers but, more likely than not, not even a twinkle in their parents eyes. And yet, Solar manage to capture the vibe and bring it into a more exploratory space, blending rock rhythms and Demo s George Adams-informed tenor solo.  Perhaps it s the availability of so much music to these younger players that encourages them to liberally mix and match styles. Bernstein s opener, Samba De Aztac evokes images of Salvador, made all the more poignant by Demos militaristic rhythms. The spiritual closer, Sun Ra s Love in Outer Space, is lighter and more elegant than its source, with Bernstein providing an insistently lyrical foundation and Yamin s eloquence gently supported by Demos unobtrusive brushwork.  Groups that place their influences so vividly on their musical sleeves run the risk of losing sight of their own identity; and Solar do seem a little on the schizophrenic side at times. Still, though they mix free playing with tender lyricism, the deeply serious with the blatantly humorous, and traditional jazz forms with styles farther afield, Solar manages to create a consistent statement, where the common elements are spirited interplay, vivid imagination and powerful intention.

Dennis Hollingsworth

one of the more intriguing piano-driven groups on the current scene
This first effort from the trio known as Solar introduces one of the more intriguing piano-driven groups on the current scene. Pianist Eli Yamin, co-founder of the Jazz Drama Program for children in the New York area, received his Master's Degree in Music Education at Lehman College, CUNY and now teaches at the school. Bassist Adam Bernstein, jazz director at the Berkeley-Carroll School in Brooklyn, NY, is a multi-talented composer/arranger with experience in a variety of musical contexts. Drummer and multi-instrumentalist Andy Demos has performed in groups as eclectic as Tiny Lights, The Whole Earth Ensemble, and the Pamela Wyn Shannon Band.

Together they create a landscape that incorporates a multitude of cultural and stylistic nuances. On Suns of Cosmic Consciousness, original compositions are mixed with tunes by Mingus, Monk, and Sun Ra. King’s “Come On” even features the band’s vocals, not what they do best, but colorful enough to add depth. Latin, swing, rock, and march-like rhythms seem quite natural, carefully placed in the proper context for each tune. These players consistently display a historic sensibility that belies their age.

On Bernstein’s wonderful jumping opener, “Samba De Aztac,” Demos uses rims and edges of the drum heads to imply timbales, while Bernstein and Yamin provide the foundation and a catchy melody. On Yamin’s “Waltz on the Hudson,” the trio is perfectly at home with a rollicking and upbeat 3/4 swing, and Bernstein provides a memorable solo. On Monk’s “Rhythm-a-ning,” Demos sets the tone through extensive use of toms and snare (snares off), giving the venerable standard a very fresh take. Drummers will especially enjoy the thwacks in this reading. Yamin’s “Perk Up - for Walter Perkins,” could easily be mistaken for another Monk tune. He employs Monk-like piano inflections to portray the melody and frame his solo—charming stuff indeed. Bernstein and Demos add solos as well.

With Yamin’s “Reincarnation 1968,” a pensive piano introduction leads to the addition of tabla and bass. African-inspired background vocals help delineate the melodic line. Demos adds a sax solo to one of the rock-driven alternate sections. The title perfectly describes this tune, which sounds like a ‘60s track from a B movie. “Love in Outer Space” might be taken as accompaniment for some type of film as well. A repeating bass line provides support for floating piano lines, brushes on the kit, and percussion accents, establishing a meditative yet not too serious flavor. “In, Out,” a short ballad that exudes quiet reflection, manifests the abilities of the trio in a more subtle setting and gives Bernstein another opportunity to display his solo skills.

This is another fine example of contemporary recording techniques and skilled studio work. Engineer Ted Kumpel captures the entire affair with significant care. Solar’s music is portrayed in a comfortable manner well suited to the artists' individual and collective talents. An emblematic quality permeates the tunes, growing on the listener with each audition. Simply put, this is cool stuff. Highly recommended.
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