...an ambitious, nuanced, poetic adventure. While all of Rathbun's work is thoughtfully rendered, and artistically significant, 'Atwood Suites' may just be his masterpiece.
An ambitious, multi-faceted composer, saxophonist and bandleader, Andrew Rathbun had used poetry as an inspirational catalyst for several recordings over the last 20 years. Particularly enamored by the works of famed novelist Margaret Atwood, Rathbun composed three suites for large ensemble featuring her poems and the unique voices of trumpeter Tim Hagans, drummer Bill Stewart and vocalists Luciana Souza and Aubrey Johnson, who vividly capture the imagery and emotions of Atwood's poetry. Rathbun's rich, multi-textured compositions and his use of the large ensemble as his musical voice was largely influenced by collaborations with the late, and legendary, trumpeter/composer Kenny Wheeler in the early 2000s. Wheeler's supple, dark tones floating over the group and Luciano Souza's voice bringing to life Atwood's poetry inspired Rathbun to more deeply explore these concepts.
1. Two Islands I 12:31
2. Two Islands II 5:50
3. Two Islands III 9:57
4. Power Politics I 6:30
5. Power Politics II 13:38
6. Power Politics III 9:41
1. Fractured 10:14
2. V 6:12
3. I 7:43
4. II 11:31
Composed & Arranged by Andrew Rathbun
Poetry by Margaret Atwood
Andrew Rathbun - composer, director
John O'Gallagher - Soprano, Alto Saxophones
Ben Kono - Alto Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet
Quinsin Nachoff - Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet
Dan Pratt - Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet
Carl Maraghi - Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet
Seneca Black - Trumpet
Matt Holman - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Dave Smith - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Russ Johnson - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Tim Hagans - Flugelhorn (1-6, soloist)
Alan Ferber - Trombone
Mike Fahie - Trombone
JC Sanford - Trombone
Chris Olness - Bass Trombone
Luciana Souza - Voice (Disc 1)
Aubrey Johnson - Voice (Disc 2)
Nate Radley - Guitar
Jeremy Siskind - Piano, Rhodes
David Ambrosio - Bass
Bill Stewart - Drums
Owen Howard - Drums (1,2 Disc 2)
Produced by George Schuller and Andrew Rathbun
Recorded by Michael Marciano, Systems II Recording, Brooklyn, NY
Mixed and Mastered by Michael Marciano, Aug./Sept./Nov. 2017
Additional editing by Garrett Gagnon Aug. 2017
Photos by David Korchin, photos of Andrew Rathbun, Daniel Gladstone
Cover design and layout by John Bishop
Step Tempest (Richard B. Kamins)
Canadian-born poet, essayist, and novelist Margaret Atwood (born Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) 1939) is currently enjoying renewed popularity these days thanks to HULU's production of "The Handmaid's Tale" and NETFLIX's production of "Alias Grace." Her depictions of dystopian societies hits home in this time of Boko Haram and ISIS. Before her novels be ...
The Jazz Trail (Felipe Freitas)
The new album from Canadian saxophonist Andrew Rathbun comprises three suites. The 2-CD set Atwood Suites, co-produced by Rathbun and drummer George Schuller, features a contagious 18-piece jazz orchestra of respectful instrumentalists and renowned soloists, including saxophonists Quintin Nachoff and John O'Gallagher, trumpeters Tim Hagans (as a fe ...
JazzdaGama (Raul da Gama)
There have been a few recordings of poetry and music over the years. However, there are none featuring the poetry of Margaret Atwood and certainly none that capture its angst-ridden power also encapsulating its imagery in the overarching passion of a musical argument. Andrew Rathbun has a clear and unified vision of key poems and has set them in a ...
Pasatiempo (The New Mexican, Santa Fe) (Paul Weideman)
Soprano and baritone saxophones open "Two Islands I" in a sprightly mien, like an awakening. Luciana Souza sings lines from a Margaret Atwood poem: "I could say it without looking, the animals; the blackened trees, the arrivals; the bodies, words, it goes and goes; I could recite it backwards." Tim Hagans begins a lovely solo on flügelhorn, kineti ...
Jazz Weekly (George W. Harris)
This two-disc set has George Schuller and Andrew Rathbun producing a rich collection of the leader's material, which is modern, rich and accessible. A mix of music and poetry by Margaret Atwood make for a delightful and ambitious listen. There is a 3-Part "Two Islands," Souza's lovely voice over the pulsating reeds, while Tim Hagans sighs on "Tw ...
Badd Press (Kevin Press)
Canadian author Margaret Atwood is arguably more relevant, and her work more consequential, than ever. And that's saying something for a world-famous writer with a long shelf of celebrated publications. The Hulu television treatment of her insightful The Handmaid's Tale has helped win her a new generation of readers. It is a deeply unsettling th ...
All About Jazz (Dan Bilawsky)
4-STARS The marriage between jazz and poetry is having a true moment in the present artistic sphere. The two have long mixed and mingled, oft proving sympathetic and symbiotic in their multidirectional moves, unique cadences, and improvisational capacities. But never before has the connection been so strong and centralized. With drummer Matt Wilso ...
London Free Press (Stuart Derdeyn)
I'll leave it to bandleader/saxophonist/composer Rathburn to describe his concept with this recording: "A setting of Margaret Atwood's poetry for jazz orchestra, sung by Luciana Souza, with special guests Bill Stewart (drummer) and Tim Hagans (trumpet)." The 10 tracks over two albums are broken into the two three-part suites (Two Islands I, II, ...
Oregon Jazz Scene (Tree Palmedo)
With big-budget adaptations like The Handmaid's Tale catching the public eye, Canadian writer Margaret Atwood doesn't exactly need more publicity. But with this ambitious, large-ensemble double album, composer Andrew Rathbun seeks to highlight a lesser-known facet of Atwood's bibliography: her poetry. With vocalists Luciana Souza and Aubrey Johnson ...
All About Jazz (Paul Rauch)
4-STARS The mingling of jazz music and poetry is not a new concept. It has always been an amiable, yet at times, uncomfortable fit. From a verse standpoint, it is in many ways liberating. While most vocalized lyrics and spoken word forms rely on rhyme to speak to cadence and rhythm, free verse poetry liberates the narrative from the confinements o ...
All About Jazz (Friedrich Kunzmann)
In a way, the Atwood Suites have been in the works for almost two decades. When Kenny Wheeler approached Toronto native Andrew Rathbun in search for a band in 2001, the former furthermore inquired if the latter would like a composition of his own penning to be performed beside Wheeler's "Suite Time Suite." Consequently, the "Power Politics Suite," ...
All About Jazz (Jerome Wilson)
4 1/2 STARS Andrew Rathbun is a Canadian saxophonist who has made a major musical statement here with this collection of suites, two of which are based on the poetry of author Margaret Atwood. Rathbun's writing shows the influence of another Canadian, Kenny Wheeler, in its lush sonority, the frequent gorgeous flugelhorn solos by Tim Hagans and the ...
Jazz Wax (Marc Myers)
Setting poetry to music is nothing new. Setting Margaret Atwood's poetry to music is a different matter. Most people probably aren't even aware that novelist Margaret Atwood wrote poetry. She has. Toronto saxophonist and composer Andrew Rathbun has taken her We Are Hard on Each Other and Two Islands: Excerpt From Circle/Mud Poem and set the prose t ...
Ottawa Citizen (Peter Hum)
TOP 10 CANADIAN JAZZ ALBUMS OF 2018 The Toronto-raised composer and saxophonist, who is on faculty at the University of Western Michigan, released a splendid and ambitious double album in April, reuniting with some stellar talents that he previously made music when he lived in New York City. Rathbun's gorgeous compositions and orchestrations stirr ...
London Jazz News (Frank Griffith)
Toronto native, saxophonist, composer and bandleader Andrew Rathbun has just released his large ensemble debut CD for Origin Records entitled Atwood Suites. Two of the three pieces, Two Islands and Power Politics are set to the poetry of the renowned Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood. Recorded in New York City in 2017, Rathbun's ensemble boasts top ...
DownBeat - Live Review (Michael J West)
Guimarães Jazz Fest Doesn't Play It Safe "Aqui Nasceu Portugal," says a sign on the 1,000-year-old stone tower in Guimarães' historic city center. "Here Portugal was born." The decisive battle of Portuguese independence took place in the shadow of the castle wall in 1128. And because of this, Guimarães remains one of Portugal's most important ...