Trumpet extraordinaire Antoine Drye joins forces with renowned orchestrator Isaac Raz on Retreat To Beauty (Oblation Vol 3.: Providence!) – out October 20, 2023 via Cellar Music Group

Cellar Music Group is pleased to announce the October 20, 2023 release of Antoine Drye with Strings: Retreat To Beauty (Oblation Vol 3.: Providence!), marking an exciting new musical direction for NYC-based trumpeter Antoine Drye. On this seminal release, Drye joins forces with esteemed orchestrator Isaac Raz and an ensemble of over twenty musicians. Retreat To Beauty takes its cues from landmark orchestral recordings within the Black American musical idiom, paying particular attention to the iconic Clifford Brown with Strings. The album delivers breathtaking lush arrangements of jazz standards and original material, giving a deft modern twist to a classic orchestral jazz sound.

Drye is joined by a deeply adept rhythm section comprised of pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Ben Wolfe, and drummer Donald Edwards. The ensemble sound is augmented by David Bertrand and Myron Walden on flutes, John Ellis on clarinets, trumpeter Charlie Porter, trombonists Willie Applewhite and David Gibson, french horn players Patrick Milando and Alexandra Cook, Becca Patterson on tuba, violinists Christina Courtin and Trina Basu, cellist Marika Hughes, violist Jessica Troy, bassist Brandi Disterheft, as well as vocalists Kim Kimistri Kalesti and AC Lincoln. Three actors on the first track, Vondie Curtis Hall, Sebastian Stoller, and David Stoller, set the tone for the album with a delightful tableau of a father bringing his daughter to hear a jazzy orchestra for the very first time.

Rarely does an album successfully marry tradition and innovation, meeting the sounds of yesteryear with the tastes and sensibilities of the modern day – this is only one of the impossible feats that Drye and Raz accomplish with Retreat To Beauty. Equally rare is an album that successfully encapsulates the raw thrill and energy of hearing a live orchestral jazz performance while retaining the crystal clarity and nuance of a studio release. Retreat To Beauty (Oblation Vol 3., Providence!), the third installment in Drye’s long standing Oblation series figures around ‘providence’, referring to a divine guidance. ‘Oblation’ refers to the act of offering in a spiritual manner – like so many classic albums before it. Across the project, Drye delivers his melodic refrains with urgency and an unerring soulfulness, befitting the album’s dedication.

Drye’s composition and delivery, and Raz’s orchestration conjure moments of Clifford Brown, Ben Webster, Cannonball Adderley and Charlie Parker, while adding inventive melodies and harmonic passages that can be perceived as a natural extension and continuation of the style as a living creative framework, and not solely a conserved legacy. Raz reflects: “It was vitally important that the irreplaceable feeling of a live performance with a full orchestra be the gold standard for this project. While many modern-day artists utilize excellent, high-quality string samples, sometimes even mixed with live over-dubbed performances by real musicians in the studio, there simply is no substitute for the communal experience of a large ensemble of musicians performing a work together, nor the sound. It is the cumulative effect of community and artistry that cannot be replaced by any technology and is the only way to truly give this style its due.”

37”, the album’s first musical piece, opens with the unmistakable and yet unique sound of a violin bow rhythmically bouncing on the strings to playfully set the cadence for the tune. Fortner trickles in with some decidedly modern harmonic refrains and then we’re off – Drye’s horn soars above the sonic tapestry created by the orchestra. Right off the bat, one notices the immense interplay and dynamic sensibilities that allow this large ensemble to feel absolutely unified. The ensemble brings its magic to the Strayhorn classic “Isfahan” – this harmonically rich arrangement explores both the bright and dark sides of this hallmark standard. A particular highlight is Drye’s tremendously lyrical solo taking place alongside melodic accompaniment from the string section. 

Drye’s original composition “Friend” compliments the brightness and modern complexity of other compositions with a wistful quality and a refreshing traditional simplicity. Another Drye composition “Oblation”, initially recorded on the 2003 album of the same name, brings an irresistible tight-pocket groove and lyrical trumpet melody into the mix. The Thelonious Monk composition “Reflections” is delivered here with an ease that is rare on modern jazz recordings, harmonic refrains effortlessly intertwined with supple melodies and rhythmic intrigue.

Drye’s stunning facility on the horn is demonstrated on the Sondheim classic “Send in the Clowns”. With an arrangement by Isaac Raz and reharmonization by pianist Jonathan Lefcoski, the piece has a fantastic harmonic depth explored by the full ensemble. The album concludes with an original composition from vocalist Kim Kimistri Kalesti entitled “Ringing in The Bells”. This composition is the perfect vehicle to explore the lushness of this orchestration, ending the album with a lush sweetness.



Having graduated from North Carolina School of the Arts (HS diploma), University of New Orleans (BM) and Aaron Copland School of Music (MM) gives Drye an impressive list of academic credentials. Yet, it’s his on-the-job training that has most significantly shaped his playing and career.  

Throughout his career, Drye has worked across musical genres with a wide range of artists including Ellis Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Jason Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Wessell Anderson, Brian Blade, Victor Goines, John Boutte, Kermit Ruffins, Henry Butler, Daniel Lanois, Houston Person, Tim Warfield, Mark Gross, Lafayette Harris, Paul Simon, The Brand New Heavies, Mike Longo, Mark Whitfield, Taylor Mac and Justin Vivian Bond among many others.

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Track Listing:

1.Dada takes Lilykenz to a show! (1:14) (A. Drye)
2. 37 (5:22) (J. Lefcoski)     
3. Isfahan (4:50) (B.Strayhorn)
4. Friend (4:52) (A. Drye/ D. Edwards)
5. When It’s Sleepy Time Down South (3:28) (C.Muse/L. Rene/O. René/L.Armstrong)
6. Oblation (4:51) (A. Drye)
7.The Peacocks (7:21) (J. Rowles)
8. Reflections (3:56) (T.  Monk)
9. Send In The Clowns (3:47) (arranged by I. Raz, reharmonization by J. Lefcoski) (S. Sondheim)
10. Laura (3:33) (D. Raskin/J. Mercer)
11. Goodbye (4:58) (G. Jenkins)
12. Image (1:45) (J. Lefcoski)
13. Ringing In The Bells (3:13) (Sung and written by K. Kalesti) (A.C. Lincoln backing vocals)

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