New Albums Released by UMass Jazz Faculty Felipe Salles, Fumi Tomita
Earlier in May, new albums were released by Felipe Salles and Fumi Tomita, two members of the jazz faculty at the UMass Amherst Department of Music and Dance.
On May 5, Centaur Records issued bassist Fumi Tomita's newest work, "There Used to Be Rain," his most recent collaboration with tenor saxophonist David Detweiler. The new CD features the duo performing their own original compositions alongside Leon Anderson on drums and Martin Bejerano on piano.
"There Used to Be Rain," which was recorded live at Orlando’s Timucua Arts Foundation in March 2022, is the third release by Tomita and Detweiler; previously, the two collaborated on "Celebrating Bird: The Music of Charlie Parker" on Next Level Music (2020) and a self-released project, "The David Detweiler Trio," in 2015.
For this project, Tomita and Detweiler each contributed four original tunes, a number of which were inspired by well-known artists and songs from the jazz canon. The title track, which was composed by Detweiler, is based on the lyrics and chord changes from “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes,” a pop tune made famous by Dinah Washington in the 1950’s. Tomita based “Moving Forward” on Wayne Shorter’s advanced hard bop compositions, while the harmonies from “Monk Train” are a mashup of Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train” and Thelonious Monk’s “I Mean You.” Other artists whose work helped to inspire the music on "There Used to Be Rain" include Bill Evans, Miles Davis, John Lewis, and Oscar Pettiford.
On May 12, Felipe Salles’ newest CD, "Home is Here," was released on Tapestry Records. The new CD, which was funded through a grant from Jazz Road and South Arts, features compositions inspired by and featuring an all-star lineup of performers.
This is the third of a three-CD project, all of which feature Salles’ Interconnections Ensemble performing music inspired by the experience of immigrants, including Salles himself. "Home is Here" follows "The Lullaby Project" (2018), which used the lullabies of Salles’ native Brazil to reflect his own personal journey, and "The New Immigrant Experience" (2020), which channeled emotions of anger and frustration over the treatment of the “Dreamers” – the hundreds of thousands of people protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
On "Home Is Here," Salles draws inspiration from fellow immigrants in the jazz community. Each selection was written for and directly inspired by an individual soloist, following extensive interviews with each subject. The talented lineup of performers represents a wide range of nationalities, cultures, traditions, generations, and most importantly, experiences. They include vocalists Magos Herrera (Mexico) and Sofia Rei (Argentina); saxophonists Melissa Aldana (Chile) and Jacques Schwarz-Bart (Guadeloupe); saxophonist/clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera (Cuba); flugelhornist Nadje Noordhuis (Australia); guitarist Chico Pinheiro (Brazil); and saxophonist/percussionist Yosvany Terry (Cuba).
“There’s a bit of an anthropological curiosity underneath this whole project,” Salles says. “The conversations were fascinating and helped me find ways to write music that felt connected with people's personalities and stories.”
Troy Dostert from "All About Jazz" describes the CD as “a polychromatic, adventurous album that allows Salles' multidimensionality as a composer to flourish." Writing for Herencia Latina (herencialatina.com), Eric Gonzáles calls "Home is Here" a work to "sweeten the ear, and to know that there are still musicians who take risks and follow their calling. This is a luxury production, sure to feed your soul.”
Salles and the full Interconnections Ensemble will perform selections from "Home is Here" at an album release party at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, New York on June 22, 2023.