MAGOS HERRERA & BROOKLYN RIDER
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Jazz Singer MAGOS HERRERA and String Quartet BROOKLYN RIDER
Debut Collaboration, Dreamers, Out September 21 on Sony Music Masterworks
Celebrating the Power of Beauty as a Political Act and Exploring the Artistry of Violeta Parra,
Caetano Veloso, Federico Garcia Lorca, Gilberto Gil, Joao Gilberto, Octavio Paz and Others
Gems of the Ibero-American Songbook in New Arrangements by Jaques Morelenbaum, Gonzalo Grau,
Diego Schissi, Guillermo Klein and Brooklyn Rider’s Colin Jacobsen;
VIDEO: “Niña” https://youtu.be/pSMdOCly_6c
MAGOS HERRERA & BROOKLYN RIDER -- “DREAMERS” Tour 2018/2019
Sept 27 New York, NY Jazz at Lincoln Center / Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola
Sept 28 Chapel Hill, NC Carolina Performing Arts / Memorial Hall
Sept 29 Amherst, MA Amherst College / Buckley Recital Hall
Jan 6 New York, NY globalFEST
Mar 14 Brooklyn, NY National Sawdust
Apr 7 Washington, DC The Kennedy Center / Direct Current Series
These days, when even the term “dreamers” is disputed territory, celebrating beauty is a political act. That is the beating heart of Dreamers, the collaboration between New York-based Mexican singer Magos Herrera and the string quartet Brooklyn Rider.
The recording, released on September 21 on Sony Music Masterworks, includes gems of the Ibero-American songbook such as “Volver a los 17,” (To Be 17 Again); “Coraçao Vagabundo,” (Vagabond Heart); and “Balderrama,” as well as pieces written to texts by Octavio Paz, Rubén Darío, and Federico García Lorca — all reimagined by a superb group of arrangers including Jaques Morelenbaum, Gonzalo Grau, Diego Schissi, Guillermo Klein and Brooklyn Rider’s own Colin Jacobsen.
The connecting thread is that the poets and songwriters featured on Dreamers came from places that have endured brutal state violence. Consider Violeta Parra, from Chile; Joao Gilberto, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, from Brazil; Gustavo “Cuchi” Leguizamón, from Argentina and García Lorca, Spain. Poet, essayist and Nobel Prize winner Paz even resigned as Mexico’s ambassador to India in 1968 to protest his government’s violent repression of student demonstrations.
“It is, first of all, an album of incredible songs, beautiful songs,” says Herrera. But it’s beauty with a purpose. The creators featured here, “were affected in different ways, but what transcends is their work, and their work represents love, “ she says. “Love for humanity, love for democracy and the inspiration to dream. It’s important to remember that every big change in history happened because someone dared to dream about it. This work is to inspire people to keep dreaming.”
In fact, for Colin Jacobsen, the quartet’s violinist and resident composer and arranger, Dreamers is a reminder that “beauty can come out of terrible situations. This year the world is celebrating the centenary of Leonard Bernstein and I think he has one of the great quotes: ‘This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before’."
Dreamers was produced by Brooklyn Rider’s violinist Johnny Gandelsman, whose production credits also include Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble's Grammy-winning album Sing Me Home (2016), and music for the Ken Burns' documentary TV series The Vietnam War.
Herrera, who after studying in Los Angeles and Boston settled in New York City in 2008, has proven to be an intrepid jazz singer, and her attitude and skill has led her to intriguing pursuits. In recent years — and these are only some broad brushstrokes — she followed a jazz album of original songs (Distancia, 2009) with a tribute to Mexican composers from the Golden Era of the 1930s and 40s (Mexico Azul, 2011) before pivoting to collaborate with flamenco producer and guitarist Javier Limón (Dawn, 2014).
Brooklyn Rider — Johnny Gandelsman, violin; Colin Jacobsen, violin; Nicholas Cords, viola; and Michael Nicolas, cello — also have made ignoring musical boundaries a defining element of their identity. They served notice with their debut recording Passport (2008), which included arrangements of Armenian folk songs, an arrangement of a song by Mexican rockers Café Tacuba and an original by Jacobsen, and have since continued to expand their repertoire to include music by composers as disparate as Philip Glass, Björk, Vijay Iyer and Elvis Costello. They have also explored collaborations with artists such as banjoist Béla Fleck, Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman, Irish fiddler Martin Hayes, and Iranian kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor.
“This is my first experience recording with strings and this is not just a string quartet, this is Brooklyn Rider,” says Herrera. “They have been together for years and have their own way of working. For me it was jumping into the unknown.”
“Working with Magos was very collaborative,” recalled Jacobsen. “We wanted this to be a project where there was really space for Magos's singing but also for our playing, so it wasn’t a jazz album where you have strings just as background, but something that is very integrated.”
Dreamers includes three texts set to music composed by Herrera, two of them by Octavio Paz: “Niña” (Girl) and “Dreams” – from “Cántaro Roto” (Broken Jug). “It’s just a little fragment of one of his most amazing pieces, and it talks about dreaming,” says Herrera. “I really wanted to sing this song in its English version because that's the core of the album. I wanted everybody to understand it.” The third piece, “Tu y Yo,”(You and I) is based on a work by Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío.
As for the choice of arrangers and matching them with specific songs, Jacobsen notes that “we wanted to have voices that really knew Magos, the singing tradition and the jazz vocabulary but also really knew string quartet vocabulary.”
“The title of the recording has many layers, but the main inspiration was obviously the current political scenario, and not only in the United States but around the world. As a Mexican woman artist, I wanted to change the narrative,” says Herrera, who is a spokesperson for the United Nations campaign Unite to End Violence Against Women. “There's a narrative criminalizing immigrants and immigration. We wanted to express the dignity and beauty of these cultures.”
For all the discussions about borders, walls, and the history and meaning of migration, perhaps there is no stronger argument on Dreamers about the power of music to transcend than Jacobsen’s arrangement of “Balderrama.” Here’s an Argentine folk song, made popular by singer Mercedes Sosa, that celebrates a peña, a restaurant-bar-cum-meeting-place for poets, writers and musicians in Salta, a province in the Northwest of Argentina. It seemingly couldn’t be more of a local ditty — or, as it turns out, more universal. And Jacobsen also hears something else that speaks to the spirit of Dreamers.
He first heard the song as part of the soundtrack for Steven Soderbergh´s Che, a biopic of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Ché” Guevara. “He uses it very poignantly as the closing theme. I heard it and it just touched a chord in me. I fell in love with it. So when I first spoke with Magos about this project and she mentioned “Balderrama” I said ‘yes’ immediately,” he recalls. “I told her we needed to do this project just because that one song is so beautiful — and also because I really wanted to arrange it.”
But, he soberly notes, “Encoded in that song there is something pertinent to the whole project. Here is a celebration of Balderrama, a place where musicians and poets come together and a fire burns through the night for beauty, and the song asks ‘where would we go if Balderrama goes out?’ which is to say, if that place wasn't there, if that creative fire dies, then all would fall apart. I feel like that's a beautiful image for the whole project.
Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider -- “Dreamers”
Release Date: September 21, 2018
Sony Music Masterworks comprises Masterworks, Sony Classical, OKeh, Portrait and Masterworks Broadway imprints. For email updates and information please visit www.sonymusicmasterworks.com.
Magos Herrera, vocals
Johnny Gandelsman, violin
Colin Jacobsen, violin
Nicholas Cords, viola
Michael Nicolas, cello
Miguel Poveda, flamenco vocals on La Aurora de Nueva York
Mathias Kunzli, percussion on Tu y Yo, Dreams, Milonga gris, Eu vim da Bahia, De manha, Coração vagabundo
Gonzalo Grau, percussion on Niña, Milonga gris, Tu y Yo, La Llorona, Dreams; palmas + percussion on La Aurora de Nueva York
Sol y La Conja, palmas on Niña
Edward Perez, bass on Tu y Yo
Artistic director and executive producer: Magos Herrera
Produced by Johnny Gandelsman
Recorded at Power Station, NYC
Recording engineer: Alex Venguer
Mixing and editing: Alex Venguer
Master: Oscar Zambrano
MAGOS HERRERA & BROOKLYN RIDER “Dreamers”
Sony Music Masterworks
- NIÑA | 6:16
Composed by Magos Herrera, Felipe Pérez Santiago Lyrics by Octavio Paz Arranged by Gonzalo Grau
- BALDERRAMA | 5:17
Lyrics and Composed by Gustavo “Cuchi” Leguizamón, Jose Manual Castilla Arranged by Colin Jacobsen
- DREAMS | 4:04
Composed by Magos Herrera Lyrics by Octavio Paz, Arranged by Diego Schissi
Poem Excerpt from “El Cantaro Roto” by Octavio Paz
- DE MANHÃ | 4:30
Lyrics and Composed by Caetano Veloso Arranged by Jaques Morelenbaum
- VOLVER A LOS 17 | 4:59
Lyrics & Composed by: Violeta Parra Arranged by: Diego Schissi
- MILONGA GRIS | 3:58
Lyrics & Composed by: Carlos Aguirre Arranged by: Diego Schissi
- LA AURORA DE NUEVA YORK FT. MIGUEL POVEDA | 5:28
Composed By: Vicente Amigo Girol Lyrics by: Federico García Lorca Arranged by: Gonzalo Grau
- EU VIM DA BAHÍA | 4:21
Lyrics & Composed By: Gilberto Gil Arranged by: Jaques Morelenbaum
- CORAÇÃO VAGABUNDO | 5:10
Lyrics & Composed By: Caetano Veloso Arranged by: Jaques Morelenbaum
- TÚ Y YO | 5:53
Composed By: Magos Herrera,Fabio Gouvea Lyrics by: Rubén Darío Arranged by: Guillermo Klein
Poem Excerpt from “Tú Y Yo.” by Rubén Dario
- LA LLORONA | 6:11
Public Domain Arranged by: Gonzalo Grau
- LUZ DE LUNA | 3:54
Lyrics & Composed by: Álvaro Carrillo Arranged by: Guillermo Klein
- UNDIÚ | 6:48
Lyrics & Composed by: João Gilberto Arranged by: Colin Jacobsen
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