After spending over a decade honing his craft as both a sideman and a leader, pianist and composer Alex Clough is now proud to release his debut album Near, Far, Beyond TODAY! This new album showcases eight original tracks featuring Clough alongside David Smith on trumpet, Steve Kortyka on tenor saxophone, John Tate on bass and Jay Sawyer on drums. Arranging half of the album for piano trio and the other half for quintet, Clough presents this recording as a reflection upon his vast experiences as a musician, human and world traveler. Clough will begin the album release celebrations with a pre-release concert at Smalls Jazz Club, NYC on Saturday, August 4th at 4:30pm, as part of the Smalls Showcase Series.
Over the course of performing as a professional musician for the past ten years, Alex Clough has had some time to actively reflect upon the personal significance of creating his own music. Although uncertain that there is any sort of tangible, concrete and definable “meaning” or “value” in the act, for the pianist, sharing his own music with others satisfies a personal and pure yearning. The SUNY Purchase graduate explains, “I’ve occasionally sat down at the piano and, with my most earnest efforts, written songs to put what I have thought, seen and learned in this world into sound – to make these things a little more real so I can share them with listeners. I’ve used all sorts of source material as inspiration for these compositions; ideas developed over years of improvisation, movements of dancers that I’ve accompanied, specific images and ambiences that I’ve seen and dreamed of and relationships I’ve developed over the years. Though the album channels disparate moods, times and places, I feel that is tied together by a subtly strong thread.”
Near, Far, Beyond opens with “Swirl” – a tune inspired by the powerful yet lithe aesthetics of the John Coltrane quartets of the 1960’s and Branford Marsalis groups of the 80’s and 90’s. With its titular significance linked to a street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, “Shore Road” attempts to capture the undulating, calm nature of this particular road and the waters it runs alongside. “Red Shades” is the funkiest tune on the album that takes its inspiration from the sunglasses of bassist James Robbins, a good friend of Alex’s and great bassist. While this tune isn’t a homage to James, stylistically, his shades and the personality behind them did inspire Clough to write a groovy tune that travels through different textures. Although Clough has yet to visit Cherrapunji – the northeastern state of Meghalaya in India – the eponymously named tune brings attention to the region’s famous “land bridges”. Constructed by trees grown specially to serve as natural crossings for the inhabitants of the region, the beauty of this coexistence between human and nature served as Clough’s inspiration for this piece. Another stand-out track from the album is “Free, Free, Free” – Clough’s first ever composition wrote in the spring of 2009, reflecting a cry that still rings true today. “We’re often shackled by the technological innovations we purportedly crave and I think we all really seek freedom in our lives, freedom from real or imaginary constraints thrust on us.”
With the support of this talented group, Alex Clough is excited to introduce himself and share his personal reflections with listeners on this debut album.
MORE ABOUT ALEX CLOUGH
Alex Clough is a pianist, educator and composer born and bred in Brooklyn, NY. Exposed early on to great music, Alex took an interest in the piano and drums as a child, eventually taking lessons and participating as a high schooler in the All City Concert Band and NJPAC’s prestigious Jazz for Teens Program. After graduating with a B.A. from Tufts University in Economics and International Relations and an M.M. from SUNY Purchase in Jazz Studies, Alex embarked on a still-unfolding journey to find his place in New York City’s world famous jazz scene. Over the years, Alex has pursued numerous musical interests. As both sideman and leader he has played at a wide array of great venues, including Birdland, Lincoln Center, the United Nations, Le Poisson Rouge, SOBs, the Rainbow Room, Cornelia Street Cafe, Rockwood Musical Hall and Joe’s Pub. He has served as musical director for Nightingale Jazz Band, Recovery House of Worship and jazz and opera vocalist Marie-Claire Giraud. Other pursuits include accompaniment work for the Metropolitan Opera Guild, dance accompaniment at Mark Morris Dance Group, NYU, Mason Gross School of the Arts and Montclair State University, and sideman work with stylistically eclectic music groups in New York City, playing styles that range from instrumental jazz to burlesque to hip hop to Iranian punk rock.
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