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The American Dream

Artist: Frank Carlberg
Frank Carlberg - The America Dream CD
Label: Red Piano
Regular Price: $14.95
On Sale For: $5.98 
Year: 2007
Format: CD

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Red Piano Records, a new, artist run, Brooklyn based recording label, could not have chosen a more auspicious musical event for its debut release than pianist/composer Frank Carlberg’s The American Dream.

Brilliantly conceived and stunningly executed by an ensemble (made up) of some of Mr. Carlberg’s most reliable and longstanding associates, The American Dream is a jazz suite cum political cri de couer built around 12 short poems by the late Robert Creeley. The poems have been situated by Mr. Carlberg in musical contexts that extend and enhance the linguistic economy and emotional candor that characterize much of Mr. Creeley’s greatest work.

From the almost whimsical dithyrambs of “We Get Crazy” to the empathic lament of celebrity in the Marilyn Monroe poem, “Names”; from the bitter disappointment and sense of squandered promise that defines “The American Dream” to the intensely hopeful undercurrents informing “If Ever There Is”, the quintet, featuring Christine Correa, a vocalist in the tradition of the great Jeanne Lee, who has assimilated Mr. Carlberg’s heady concepts so totally and with such integrity that each tune becomes, in turn, a tour de force; one of new music’s most inventive and imaginative percussionists, Mike Sarin, on drums; the dynamic saxophonist Chris Cheek, whose quiet fire and subtle shadings amplify and expand on Mr. Carlberg’s intentions with uncanny precision, and, on bass, ‘‘tightenin’ it all up’ and ‘holdin it all down’, the inimitable John Hebert - the quintet, with utmost confidence and éclat, re-animates Mr. Carlberg’s visionary approach to and interpretation of Mr. Creeley’s impeccable poetries.

The Frank Carlberg / Robert Creeley collaboration — a collaboration that, in a very real sense, continues to evolve to this day, first and foremost through Mr. Creeley’s heartily accorded imprimatur and most recently through his wife Penelope’s blessing and encouragement — is unique in the “postmodern” cannon, even in the very formidable light of the Creeley/Steve Swallow recordings.

Robert Creeley was a son of New England; a “wind and water man”, flinty and precise like the landscapes in which he was raised. His “posture toward reality,” so to speak, was reserved and meticulous, his verse introspective, crystalline and absent of extraneous sentiment, but rooted always in a tender generosity towards the vagaries of the human condition. He had a singular ability to match his concerns, his thoughts and observations, with the perfectly commensurate cadences and words he needed to more fully reveal their compressed delineations.

Frank Carlberg is an urban Finn of Swedish extraction; student of Paul Bley and Ran Blake, Geri Allen and Jimmy Giuffre. He is a cosmopolite of the first water, widely traveled, a citizen of the world operating out of a brownstone in Brooklyn with his partner (in art and life), Ms. Correa and their two children... Teaching post at New England Conservatory… As comfortable writing for duos with Ms. Correa, traditional piano trio, small ensembles and big bands as he is in creating orchestral environments for Syrian oud virtuoso Kinan Idnawi… Mr. Carlberg is a sonic polymath with a palette that’s about as rangy as it gets.

When he was asked for his definition of beauty, the philosopher, inventor and American original, Buckminster Fuller offered this response: “When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think about how to solve the problem. But when I’ve finished, if the solution isn’t beautiful, I know it’s WRONG.”

Just as he had with Ms. Correa so has Mr. Carlberg found a “soul mate,” if you will, in Robert Creeley. Mr. Carlberg’s artistic and aesthetic sensibilities mesh impeccably with Mr. Creeley’s trenchant perceptions and his exquisite sense of pacing and “time.”

And now, out of the fortuitous conjunction and simpatico of these gifted creative spirits, Mr. Carlberg has fashioned, for us, this remarkable piece of music - joyous and graceful, indignant and reflective, plaintive and hopeful, and, ultimately, because it’s RIGHT, beautiful… very, very beautiful.
ARTISTS
Christine Correa (voice); Frank Carlberg (piano); Chris Speed (tenor sax); John Hebert (bass); Michael Sarin (drums)
TRACKS
1. We Get Crazy
2. Speech
3. Names
4. "There..."
5. The American Dream
6. Loop
7. Echo l
8. Sentences
9. Time
10. Echo ll
11. Be At That
12. If Ever There Is
See all titles featuring Frank Carlberg






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