Vocalist and composer Andromeda Turre presents From The Earth – a programmatic suite illuminating environmental justice and the interconnected nature of life – releasing July 26, 2024

Vocalist, composer, and SiriusXM’s Real Jazz host Andromeda Turre is a prolific name in the contemporary jazz scene and beyond. Under the tutelage of her father, legendary trombonist Steve Turre, as well as jazz icons Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and Wynton Marsalis, Turre has honed her distinctive presence as a versatile artist for over two decades. Turre holds an in-depth mastery of the stage through her career in both theater, as a lauded composer and supervisor for Lena: Lessons From A Lady and the Aquila Theater’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, and music, from her time with greats such as Ray Charles and her own experiences headlining festivals in 17 countries. 

Now, Turre combines her nuanced musical sensibilities and abilities to craft an immersive sonic tapestry rooted in environmental activism on From The Earth, her expansive new album out July 26, 2024. Presented as four concertos, each segment of the From The Earth suite is connected to a community disproportionately affected by climate change, and is sonically reflective of their respective biosopheres. Enriched by recorded interviews with leaders of these marginalized communities, this poignant and creative contemporary jazz suite is an arresting call to action, and continues the long-standing tradition of using jazz as a tool for activism. “Merging my artistry with my experience as a community organizer and Cornell University certified, diversity and inclusion consultant, I created From the Earth as an invitation for listeners to engage more deeply and create change,” Turre comments. 

The seeds of the idea for From The Earth first took root in December 2022 when Turre was on an excursion in Iceland. Utterly immersed in nature, the world that surrounded her was powerful and almost primeval in its raw elemental state. “Experiencing the aurora borealis dancing in the sky, the violence of sea waves crashing, lava birthing new ground and the marvel of being engulfed within a glacier all revealed a profound connection with the earth,” Turre says. “This connection returned home with me and has remained tethered to my curiosity and creativity.” This enveloping presence of nature led Turre to view the concept of the Earth through the lens of the manifestations of its beauty and power that she saw on that trip: Earth, Sky, Sea, and Ice. These four biospheres serve as the framing device of From The Earth, with each comprising multiple movements that allow for expansive exploration of the themes and conjure rich sonic imagery.

The album’s saliency is further expounded upon by the urgency and omnipresent call to action. “Like many of us, the threat of climate change on our communities weighs heavily on my heart and mind,” Turre explains. “As I began to explore the effects on communities here in North America where I live, I was unsurprised to find that marginalized communities such those affected by systems such as redlining and colonization were disproportionately affected by climate change.” With this perspective in mind, Turre sought to use jazz and its longstanding historical tradition of providing a voice for social justice, and began developing From The Earth in that direction. To gain further insight, she interviewed climate experts and community leaders from Illinois, California, Puerto Rico and Newfoundland, and chose to use that audio within the suite to further enhance its important message. From The Earth thus stands as not merely a piece of music, but as an open invitation for listeners to engage more deeply with the matter at hand. From The Earth is a visionary initiative grounded in the belief that a multicultural future is essential, and that the survival of marginalized communities is of equal value to those with power and status. Fostering meaningful connections across different communities through the medium of jazz, and by incorporating powerful interview excerpts directly into the music, she amplifies voices that are often excluded from critical environmental discourse.

Musically, From The Earth selectively curates its use of varied timbres and instruments to evoke the imagery of each biosphere. Earth is represented through the use of more grounded and culturally-rooted instruments, specifically acoustic bass, piano, marimba, didgeridoo, and crystal bowls. In contrast, Sky utilizes brass, vibraphone, and harp to encapsulate a crisp yet airy sound. Sea features percussion as a cultural link to Puerto Rico, as well as a variety of shells to specifically evoke the water. Ice adds the use of EWI to create a sense of crystalline mystique, and notably also features a choir to balance the sound while emphasizing ideas of unity. 

Structurally, each biosphere’s concerto is organized in three movements, with each movement holding a specific – almost liturgical – meaning within its organization. The first movement of each concerto welcomes the listener by way of soundscape. The second represents the community, while the third meditates on the interconnectedness of the community and the natural world with which it interacts. A prime example of this creative merger of structure and sounds is “Earth Waltz,” the third movement of the Earth concerto which personifies the granular experience of terrestrial life with the vast significance of life on a cosmic scale. “Earth Waltz” calls on listeners to engage with a broader perspective, and features a powerful piano solo by ELEW along with an improvised vocal solo by Andromeda Turre. Another highlight is “Finger on the Trigger”, the final movement within the Sky concerto. Using a modified blues, this piece demonstrates the fury felt by many towards the individuals and conglomerates who place profit above responsibility, with the price being paid by the environment. The piece showcases fierce solos from ELEW and saxophonist Chelsea Baratz. “Hydrosphere” was the second piece Turre composed for this album, and was written during her time in Iceland. As the first movement in the Sea concerto, it invites listeners into the hydrosphere, painting the sounds of oceans, rivers, lakes, and groundwater. The piece opens with a mesmerizing saxophone ostinato that unfurls with layers of voice and conch shell. As the piece proceeds, its undulating form and improvised conch shell solo by the great Steve Turre, placed atop waves of largely improvised vocal lines, maps idyllically onto the ebb and flow of the earth’s waterways.

This album stands as a monument to a great collaborative effort – first between Turre and her interviewees, then Turre and producer Scott Jacoby, Turre and the ensemble, and lastly between the artist and the Earth itself, whose vivacity so inspired this suite. From The Earth features Andromeda Turre (voice, piano, crystal bowls, bell tree), Chelsea Baratz (saxophones, EWI), Chien Chien Lu (Marimba, vibraphone), Jacquelene Acevedo (percussion), Riza Printup (harp), M’elle (background and choir vocals), Akua Dixon, Lulu Fontan, Catherine Asaad, Terrell Foster-James (choir), Steve Turre (trombone, shells), ELEW (piano), Richie Goods (electric and acoustic bass), Gene Lake (drums), Harold E. Smith (didgeridoo), and Betty Neals (poetry). The interviewees on the album include experts Dr. Jifunza Wright-Carter, Ms. Margaret Gordon, Dr. Gladys M. Canals, and Rhonda Hiscock.

 In the execution of such a remarkable piece of artwork, Turre remarks on the pronounced effort that was brought by each member of the ensemble: “The sense of community, love, vulnerability and passion everyone poured into this project was immediate and intentional,” she says. “This album was not about us, but about the Earth and about these four communities. Each musician showed up with the ability and willingness to channel what was necessary to execute that. I am so grateful.”

 

From The Earth releases July 26.

This project was made possible by funding from Jazz Road, Doris Duke Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts and ArtsWestchester.

Tracklisting:

  1. Ingression Interlude 03:08
  2. Geosphere 03:21
  3. Grandmother’s Permission 03:26
  4. Earth Waltz 07:28
  5. Atmosphere 05:14
  6. Ms. Margaret’s Lament 05:32
  7. Finger on the Trigger 03:35
  8. Hydrosphere 07:30
  9. Sin Agua No Hay Vida 04:56
  10. Contigo 03:26
  11. Cryosphere 03:32
  12. Oracle Interlude 01:06
  13. Amulena 04:13
  14. Critical Mass (feat. ELEW)

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