Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Album from Evans Artist Ari Hoenig

About Lines of Oppression (due out in March 2011)

I came up with the title Lines of Oppression while on tour in Haiti. During the morning hours in Port au Prince there were lines around the block of people looking for work. Contractors would hire people on the spot if they needed laborers that day. In the lines there was always a lot of arguing, pushing and shoving going on; needless to say it was not a very pleasant scene. Sometimes people started standing in line right after work to have a better chance of being chosen to work the next day.

Lines of Oppression fits its title well, because the “line” (or melody line) of the song is rather oppressive. “Lines of Oppression” was also the name of a reggae band I loved when growing up in Philly.

The Lines of Oppression band is really a dream band of mine, and I’m grateful to have been able to put it together. This band has a particularly profound connection together and the ability to really converse when we play together. The interplay is off the hook! The music I wrote is for this band written with all the individual players in mind.

I really like the mix of written material with improvisation of this record. I’ve been thinking for a while about how to write original music that really lets the original voice of each musician sing. This is a combination I’ve been trying to find for years and I think it’s come to fruition on this record.

About the band

I met Tigran in Los Angeles when I played on his first record. He was 17. Tigran floored me with his intensity and ability. He’s a true prodigy.

Gilad I met when he studied with me at the New School. Since then, he has been a consistent collaborator of mine in my band and his. He is an amazing musician and always keeps me on my toes. The hookup we have together is so special.

Orlando started playing with me around 2007. I love his groove, the sound he brings, and his commitment to the music. He is also a retired professional cricket player so there’s that.

Chris I also met through giving lessons at the New School. He is such a strong and rhythmic player. What he brings to my music is irreplaceable.

About the songs

Lines of Oppression
I really love playing music but I absolutely hate writing it. I had the basic idea of this tune for a long time but didn’t actually try to make a song out of it for a year or so. I really didn’t try to write an oppressive line - it just came out.

Arrows and Loops
This was my attempt to write with the melody first. In the past I had usually written stuff primarily with a specific harmonic structure in mind. It’s called Arrows and Loops because of the way my hand notation looked on the page. Good for a title but very hard for the cats to sight-read.

Wedding Song
Wedding song is a pretty ballad, which was named for a young couple I met in Philadelphia who were there when we played this song for the first time. I asked the audience to suggest a title for the song and at the end of the night they came up to talk to me. They said wanted me to play this song at their wedding a few months later. Alas I never heard from them again.
There was a nice moment in the studio when we decided to put vocals on this track. Thanks to Chris’s vocal coaching, I made my singing debut here.

Ephemeral Eyes
This song is named after the stone that brings you back to life. It’s from a video game I was playing a lot at the time. Yes that’s right, named after a video game!

I wanted something Tigran could beat box with me. We recorded this last, after three full days in the studio. We did it at 4am and were delirious with lack of sleep.

How High the Moon
How High the Moon is Tigran’s arrangement of the standard song, which he said he wrote for me. It leads into his (outro) Higher to Hayastan. I really wanted a rockin’ end to the record so having this on it was an easy decision.

This was probably the first jazz tune I ever played. Art Blakey has always been a big influence on me. I just heard the melody so strongly and wanted to make it sing on the drums. If you think it sounds a little weird, trust me it’s better that than me actually singing it.

Loves Feathered Nails
A pun on the saying “love never fails.” This was written with the theme in mind from Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut.” It’s a haunting melody and so simple.

Ari Hoenig - drums, vocals
Tigran Hamasyan - piano, vocals, beat box

Gilad Hekselman - guitar, vocals
Orlando le Fleming – bass on tracks 1,3,5,6,7,8

Chris Tordini - bass on tracks 2,9,10, vocals