The Afro-Semitic Experience - CD
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cd cover The Afro-Semitic Experience
The Road That Heals the Splintered Soul (Reckless DC)

The Afro-Semitic Experience is a six piece group with a jazz and world music sound. Their music is a merging of the many elements of their cultures. Much of what they play has a strong spiritual center to it - their repertoire contains a heavy dose of music from the Jewish synagogue and the African-American church. This new work is an exploration of the deep well of myths, epics and stories that unite all cultures.

David Chevan - bass
Warren Byrd - piano and keyboards
Will Bartlett - sax, flute, clarinets
Babafemi Alvin Carter, Jr. - drum set
Baba David Coleman - African drums, percussion
Stacy Phillips - dobro, violin, lap steel guitar

   

Listen:
Shout Out from the Mountain
The Road That Heals the Splintered Soul
Road to redemption

the artists' own words:
The idea behind this work is healing­but a very special kind of healing.

The generative idea for the work came from pianist and co-founder Warren Byrd, who explains “as tribes create stories which limn their plights and wishes which as a result yields renewal and growth, they also create art and music of the same subject yielding the same result. It's the task of this project to further cull from our own collections of tales, epics, odysseys, journeys to better places, journeys into pain and alienation, whether from our own heritage or from that of others and learn of who we are as individuals in the scheme of all the historic saga. Thus we grow a deeper understanding of ourselves. “

The piece is an original full length original composition by the group that runs approximately 100 minutes. Every member of the band has contributed pieces to this work. The group has recorded the work and the CD by the same name will officially go on sale on the evening of November 14. Support for the composition of the work comes from a Doris Duke New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America.

Founded in 1998 by pianist Warren Byrd and bassist David Chevan, The Afro-Semitic Experience is a six piece group with a jazz and world music sound. Their music is a merging of the many elements of their cultures. Much of what they play has a strong spiritual center to it­-their repertoire contains a heavy dose of music from the Jewish synagogue and the African-American church. The result is a positive creative musical experience that celebrates the shared values of different races and faiths.


About the musicians:

Warren Byrd is the youngest of a large fundamentalist music_imbued family. He started performing as a child, gaining extensive experience as an actor, a singer, and pianist, and absorbing a vast, A to Z variety of music. At age 18 he entered Hartt College of Music on full scholarship. He soon left to develop his own methods, emerging as a self_taught composer, arranger, pianist and lyricist, and subsequently, a celebrated New England Artist. Warren's extensive musical work includes directing Gospel choirs, composing for Theatre and Dance, and performing in all genres with some of the finest artists, including Archie Shepp, Jay Hoggard, Kwawaku Martin Obeng, Roseanne Vitro, and Saskia Laroo, and too many more to mention. Warren also accompanies dance and teaches in the Southern New England area. He has been nominated eight times as best keyboardist in the Hartford Advocate's Reader's poll, chosen as one of the top twenty_five pianists of the Thelonious Monk Institute's 1999 contest, and recently released his first album,"Truth Raised Twice".

David Chevan was musically active from an early age. He grew up in a Conservative-Egalitarian Jewish synagogue where he led services from the age of 10. Although much of his performing method on the double-bass has been self taught, Chevan credits the master bassist, Lisle Atkinson with showing him the pathway to self-education. As a composer Chevan has primarily focused on works for improvisors. He has written works for a wide range of artists and ensembles, including several collaborations with dance and film. In addition to performing regularly in a duo with pianist Warren Byrd and leading their group, The Afro-Semitic Experience, Chevan has had the opportunity to perform and record with a wide range of creative musical artists, including Ali Ryerson, Joe Beck, Jaki Byard, Harold Danko, Ellery Eskelin, Giacomo Gates, Frank London, Andrea Parkins, and Cookie Segelstein. He is an Associate Professor of Music at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and holds a Ph.D in Music History from C.U.N.Y. He has published numerous articles on the history of early jazz, developed and taught courses on Jewish and African-American musical traditions and is currently studying the music of bassist Milt Hinton as well as a comprehensive study of Jazz Fake Books. Chevan is proud to be a member of the board of trustees of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation.

Will Bartlett has over twenty-five years experience as a professional musician and music educator. He studied with Jimmy Heath and Lew Tabackin and performed with Frank Foster, Lee Konitz, Slide Hampton and Roswell Rudd among many others. He leads his own group, Joy Spring as well as the Will Bartlett Ensemble. His family belongs to and are actively involved in the Lebanese-American Christian community of Connecticut.

Alvin Benjamin Carter, Jr. (Babafemi) is a multi-percussionist who had his musical beginnings on congas and later added drum set and many other types of percussion to his list. He currently focuses on afrikan-american improvisational music but has been active in many different musical styles for many years. Alvin leads his own groups LEGACY: The Keepers of Tradition and The Alvin Carter Project. He also performs with Rafiki, which is led by Alvin Carter, Sr.

Baba David Coleman is an African drumming Master and a Yoruba priest. He was born in New York and has spent the better part of his adult life traveling and performing. He recently moved to New Haven where he quickly established himself as a leading figure in the local African drum world. He has studied with Baba Femi and continues to be a disciple of the legendary Chief Bey, the oldest African-American hand drummer.

Stacy Phillips is a self-taught, internationally acclaimed resonator (slide) guitarist and violin player. He has performed with Mark O'Connor, Bela Fleck, Leon Redbone, Judy Collins, Peter Rowan, and many other of the top acoustic musicians in the world. Stacy has three solo albums and is featured artist on the Grammy award-winning album The Great Dobro Sessions. He has been called "one of the hottest pickers around" (Guitar Player magazine), "a totally fluid, totally present practitioner of American roots musics" (The Klezmer Shack on-line reviews) and "a resonator guitar virtuoso. . .stretching the stylistic limits of his instrument" (Dirtly Linen magazine). He is the author of more than 25 books and DVD's on various aspects of his chosen instruments, including "The Klezmer Collection" and "Easy Klezmer Tunes". They are seen in the music rooms of the world's best string players.

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