Friday, November 5, 2021

Flutist and Composer Alex Hamburger's Debut AND SHE SPOKE due out November 5, 2021

DC Artist and Composer Alex Hamburger memorializes strong, unrelenting women on debut record And She Spoke, due out on November 5, 2021

Flutist-composer and singer Alex Hamburger threads generations of voices through her debut release And She Spoke, due out on November 5. Focused on sharing women’s stories — from poets and  activists to composers and songwriters — the album offers original music and fresh interpretations of enduring works. Exploring pieces from Geri Allen, Maya Angelou, Mary Lou Williams, Joni Mitchell and her own grandmother, poet and activist Ana Maria R. Codas, Hamburger creates a highly orchestrated, textural experience that unfolds in thoughtful sequence. 

In her liner notes, Hamburger describes the experience of conceiving and recording And She Spoke as “standing on the shoulders of giants.” She credits her own pathway through the music to the women — and, in particular, the Black women — who came before her. “These women made it so women like me could have a voice,” she says. “Women like Terri Lyne [Carrington] and Mary Lou Williams paved the way.” 

Recorded in a single day at JazzCampus Studio in Basel, Switzerland, And She Spoke features quartet members José Luiz Martins on piano and Rhodes, Chase Kuesel on drums and Hamburger’s mentor-turned-colleague Doug Weiss on bass. “Playing with Doug is always a lesson,” says the DC artist. “He’s just so solid and grounding yet so interactive — a part of this big swirling thing. What he brought to the music was really his experiences — who he is. Having someone from his generation who’s been around  and played around — even the way he talks about music — you can feel all that when  you play with him.” 

Cool clarity from recording and mixing engineer Patrik Zosso serves the music’s precision and tonal colors, and Hamburger’s overall aesthetic for the recording. “Patrik heard the music and knew what it needed,” she says. The two mixed together remotely, sending each other notes and tracks. “We didn’t have that ‘sitting down moment,’ but he was really patient.” 
Alex Hamburger by Joji Bronner and Emma Lurye

“A lot of how we view music, on a very visceral level, is through texture,” says Hamburger. She and Martins match and reflect each other’s melodic development  against spontaneity, particularly on their stark, haunting arrangement of Mitchell’s “Last Chance Lost” that leads into Beatles classic “Across the Universe,” as well as on  Allen’s “Unconditional Love.” Foundational buoyancy enhances the record’s  exploration of texture, nuanced and elemental. “Waking in the City,” Hamburger’s response to Angelou’s “Awaking in New York,” delivers a mood-casting drone that  rapidly gains momentum. The artist’s channel-driving, reflexive energy on “Burning the Letters,” the flutist-composer’s tribute to Sylvia Plath, and serve a strong, lyrical  statement on Hamburger’s arrangement of Williams’ “What’s Your Story Morning Glory.”  

“People outside of certain circles maybe don’t know as much about who Geri was and what she’s done for the music,” says Hamburger. “I just love the way she wrote. I love the way she played and the way she conceptualized music. I had to include her in this project. She’s one of those women who broke the boundary and said, ‘Fuck this. I’m gonna play. Get out of my way.’”  

Rich transitions abound throughout “It Comes Unadorned,” Hamburger’s arrangement  of Toni Morrison’s vivid verse. But the artist-composer’s most personal gesture  memorializes the revolutionary life of her grandmother who fought for academic  integrity under the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay. “I was blown away by her  poems and stories,” says Hamburger, “by this art that I was connected to and how  amazing it was and how much it resonated with me. She was the starting point [for this  project].” 

Through Hamburger’s skilled arrangements and creative interpretations of existing  literary works, And She Spoke tells a series of stories that share an arc of resistance, grace  and grit. “It’s been a journey for sure,” she says. “That day in the studio was everything  I had worked on for so long. And it’s a dream come true.” 

Track listing:

1. Waking in the City (music by Alex Hamburger and lyrics by Maya Angelou)
2. La Desesperación es la Pasión Verdaderamente Humana (music by Alex Hamburger and lyrics by Ana Maria R. Codas)
3. Unconditional Love (by Geri Allen)
4. It Comes Unadorned (music by Alex Hamburger and lyrics by Toni Morrison)
5. What's Your Story Morning Glory (by Mary Lou Williams)
6. Last Chance Lost (by Joni Mitchell and arranged by Alex Hamburger)
7. Across the Universe (by Lennon McCartney and arranged by José Luiz Martins)
8. Burning the Letters (by Alex Hamburger)

Alex Hamburger: Voice, Flute and Compositions
José Luiz Martins: Piano, Rhodes, Arrangement
Doug Weiss: Bass
Chase Kuesel: Drums

Produced by José Luiz Martins and Alex Hamburger
Engineered, Mixed and Mastered by Patrik Zosso
Recorded at the JazzCampus Studio at the FHNW in Basel, Switzerland November 2019

Liner notes by Emma Lurye and Alex Hamburger
Album art and design by allison anne

© & ℗ Alex Hamburger 2021. All rights of the producer and of the owner of the work reproduced are reserved. Unauthorized copying, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting of this recording prohibited.
“Waking in New York” Copyright © Alex Hamburger (BMI) and Caged Bird Legacy (ASCAP)
“It Comes Unadorned” reprinted with permission of the Estate of Chloe A. Morrison