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Ryan Keberle & Catharsis
Release Fourth Studio Album
Find the Common, Shine a Light

On Greenleaf Music,
Out June 16, 2017

Album is Keberle’s Response to Growing Political and Social Turmoil, An Urgent Call for Change

 

One of the most long-lived and acclaimed bands on the current jazz scene, Ryan Keberle & Catharsis, continue to evolve their unmistakable group sound while speaking out about our troubled times on their new outing Find the Common, Shine a Light. With six years of recording and extensive touring under their belt, the band stays true to its “potent blend of cinematic sweep and lush, ear-grabbing melodies” (Los Angeles Times) while opting for a more layered and multifaceted approach in the studio.

 

TOGGLE OPEN MORE OF THE PRESS RELEASE

Even so, the signature Catharsis frontline of trombonist/leader Ryan Keberle (pronounced Keb-er-lee) and trumpeter Michael Rodriguez remains central. Vocalist Camila Meza assumes an added role on guitar and bassist Jorge Roeder appears more frequently than before on electric bass. Drummer Eric Doob brings not only his supple and animated playing to the project but also recorded the project at his studio, D.A.D.S in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Thanks to Doob, the band was able to record Find the Common over a four full days, far more than the typical jazz recording session.

The leadoff track “Become the Water” establishes the album’s political theme, with rousing lyrics by poet Mantsa Miro. “We collaborated on two songs on our previous record Azul Infinito,” Keberle says. “But that process was very different. In the past I’ve written songs and then she’s added lyrics. For this track, we spent time talking about what the song’s message would be. I’ve never felt so motivated and engaged in the political process as I do now. I wanted the song to reflect that. So, she wrote the words first and then I wrote the music which was a challenge and a first for me.”

Keberle expounds on the song’s meaning: “When was America actually ‘great’? The real history of this country, especially for those less fortunate, is an ugly one. Yet in 2016, rather than striving to move forward and build on the real momentum of the past eight years, over 60 million Americans chose to move backward. Forward progress is so simple to attain when you boil it down. It’s about one thing: compassion for others. This song looks to make that point.”

The theme of social engagement continues with “Al Otro Lado,” by Uruguayan singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler. “I came across a translation of that piece,” Keberle continues, “and it’s just so poignant for today because it deals with looking for something better on the other side of the river.” Keberle’s original “Ancient Theory,” inspired by the late Ornette Coleman, has political implications as well: “Talk about the ultimate revolutionary. Up until his death, Ornette was constantly looking for a different perspective. That’s so useful in today’s climate because one of the reasons we’re in this mess is that the status quo has become ingrained. We need people like Ornette who are willing to think a different way.”

Two classic songs from the ’60s, Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin” and The Beatles’ “Fool on the Hill,” prove to be ideal Catharsis vehicles, harmonically transformed but deeply in touch with their sources. “Coming back to the Dylan lyrics was frighteningly resonant,” Keberle notes. “It could’ve been written yesterday. Aside from the prophetic nature of his writing, to me it’s also just really sad. For all the progress we’ve made, we’re talking about the same issues – racism, women’s rights, corporate greed, LGBT rights, etc. – 50 years later.” About “Fool” he adds: “I love the symbolism and the ways it can be interpreted. It’s about how we interact with each other, which relates back to ‘Become the Water.’ How are we going to come together and change?”

“I Am a Stranger,” by the indie rock group The Welcome Wagon, is “one of my all-time favorite songs,” Keberle declares. He came across the band via Sufjan Stevens, with whom he has played with extensively. Stevens produced their first record. “It’s a husband and wife who run a church in Williamsburg, and the songwriter, Vito Aiuto, is the pastor. It’s a beautiful gathering of young Brooklynites looking for a community. The lyrics of this song touch again on the idea of relating to one’s self and to others, the importance of human connection. That’s one of the primary motives behind Catharsis in general. Also, we did a bunch of brass overdubs at the end — I even brought bass trombones and different horns which I layered to really make it sound like a full brass choir.”

Keberle also adds new harmonic dimensions to Catharsis on Fender Rhodes (piano was his first instrument) and oversees the Catharsis Singers — a small choir of friends and supporters that lends great emotional power on “Become the Water” and “Ancient Theory.” “We built these songs from the ground up,” he notes. “Many of them we hadn’t played very much. We lived them, working on just one or two a day, fine-tuning them, overdubbing, trying different guitar and bass effects. It was a completely different process from past records.”

In addition to his work as a leader, Keberle has played with the most innovative large ensembles in modern jazz, including the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project, Miguel Zenón Big Band, Pedro Giraudo Orchestra, his own Big Band Living Legacy Project, and more. Since 2004 he has directed the jazz program at New York’s Hunter College and served as a sought-after clinician around the U.S. and abroad. His bandmates in Catharsis boast stellar accomplishments as well, including sideman work with John Scofield, Chick Corea, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Julian Lage, Paquito D’Rivera and a host of others. “They’ve all become stars of their generation,” Keberle enthuses. “It’s a thrill for me that they’re all still totally committed to Catharsis because it’s a real band where they get to bring a level of creative input that you don’t always find in jazz today. It’s a really special thing.”

CD Release performances by Ryan Keberle & Catharsis:

June 28 – Rochester International Jazz Festival June 29 – Toronto Jazz Festival
June 30 – Ottawa Jazz Festival
July 3 – The Grange Hall House Concert
July 5 – Jazz Standard (NYC)
August 12 – Music Mountain Festival (Falls Village, CT)
August 13 – The Falcon (Marlboro, NY)
September 15 – Capitol Bop, (Washington, D.C.)
September 16 – The Freeman Stage at Bayside (Selbyville, DE) October 19-30 – Japan CD Release Tour

For more information about Ryan Keberle & Catharsis, contact Matt Merewitz at 215-629-6155 or matt@nullfullyaltered.com

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LISTEN TO THE FIRST SINGLE:

TOGGLE OPEN THE LYRICS

Lyrics:
Become The Water

If I told you here
and now is all we have,
would you still hear
me? What if we are blind,
all of us, imagining
there was a time
when great was real.

Our weakest link is fear
of losing greatness.
Get on stage
before the curtain falls,
before the blind messiah
opens fire. We are here
to elevate, to greater.

Find the common, shine
a light. Become the water.
Put out the fire.

Through all the noise,
why do we only hear
what we already know?
Why don’t we think
the other side is here
with us? Why don’t we hear
the sirens wailing for us all?

Why don’t we fight
for greater common?
Are we not here
to elevate us all?

Why do we let our fear
be greater than our greatness?
In times of fear, compassion
is an orphan. Dethrone
the blind and elevate the kind.

Find the common, shine
a light. Become the water.
Put out the fire.