The Omni-American Book Club: My Journey Through Literature in Music
Hollistic MusicWorks
Street Date: August 29, 2019 

One of the most ambitious projects of his long and illustrious career, The Omni-American Book Club is an expansive album of music for large ensemble (“big band”) composed and arranged by Lynch and featuring his work as soloist alongside an all star cast of special guests including Regina CarterDonald Harrison, NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman, GRAMMY® Award winner Dafnis PrietoOrlando “Maraca” Valle, and Jim Snidero. 

On The Omni-American Book Club, subtitled My Journey Through Literature In Music, Lynch connects his lifelong passion for reading and the books that have shaped his life with his original music. The album’s title refers directly to one of those books, The Omni-Americans by the African-American writer Albert Murray, which Lynch first read in high school soon after its initial release in 1970. Producer Kabir Sehgal writes in his liner notes: “…(Murray’s) life-affirming commentaries and provocative essays on culture and society are insightful and evergreen. His writings have served as a foundational philosophy for the jazz intelligentsia and aficionados alike… Murray holds up a mirror to American society and calls out the powers that be.” And indeed, reading Murray’s book and absorbing his thesis that black American culture was central to the whole idea of America was a key event in the budding, but already sharply defined, social consciousness of the young Lynch, even as he found himself being inexorably drawn to the study and practice of black American and other Afro-diasporic musics as his life’s work.  

The books that have shaped Lynch’s consciousness, and thus his music, have been myriad, and his dedications for the music of The Omni-American Book Club reflect both the diversity and the focus of his reading interests. Alongside a strong emphasis on the work of African-American writers and writing on African-American culture, both classic and contemporary (Murray, W.E.B. DuBois, Ralph Ellison, Isabel Wilkerson, Ta-Nehisi Coates), Lynch’s reading interests range widely in the area of social consciousness and social justice, as reflected in shout outs to urban theorist Mike Davis and social activist Naomi Klein

Lynch’s voracious appetite for reading history is amply illustrated in dedications toDavid Levering Lewis, Eric Hobsbawm, and Nell Irwin Painter, and his interest in the realm where history connects to current events is shown in work linked to recent writings by historian Timothy Snyder and journalist/activist Masha Gessen. For Lynch, reading is “a means to fill in the blank spaces in the map of your world”, and his research over the years to deepen the understanding of the music that he is such an able practitioner of shows in dedications to Amiri Baraka, Robert Farris Thompson, A.B. Spellman and Ned Sublette. And rounding out a list of authors that, given the depth and breadth of Lynch’s bookworm instincts could never be more than partial, dedications to the seminal Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown hint at still more facets of Lynch’s reading interests.

But what of the music that all these authors inspired, whether directly or indirectly? The nine compositions that make up The Omni-American Book Club offer a panoramic view of Lynch’s world as a composer, arranger and trumpet soloist in his first big band recording as a leader. Lynch’s pieces reveal new facets of a musical omnivorousness already well documented in his four decades of being at the forefront of the jazz and Latin music scenes. Besides works expanding on his well known (and Grammy-award winning) prowess in playing and writing both Afro-Caribbean jazz (“Crucible For Crisisfeaturing drummer/Grammy laureate Dafnis Prieto and virtuoso flautist Orlando “Maraca” Valle, and “Affective Affinitiesfeaturing violinist Regina Carter), and “straight-ahead” swingers inspired by his tenure as a young man in the legendary bands of Art Blakey and Horace Silver (“Tribute To Blue”, featuring alto saxophonist Jim Snidero, and “Woody Shaw”), Lynch casts his musical net even wider on The Omni-American Book Club. 

Hip hop, trap and funk influences are deftly blended with sonorous brass choirs and shouting full band passages on “The Struggle Is In Your Name”, featuring New Orleans icon and frequent Lynch collaborator, saxophonist Donald “Big Chief” Harrison. Reggaeton beats and salsa grooves coexist with massed horns, dissonant counterpoint and snaking solo lines in “Inevitability and Eternity”. Swing and Latin rhythms seamlessly coexist in the company of virtuosic band work and the keening soprano sax of NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman on “The Trouble With Elysium.”Percussion comes to the fore on the evocative, multi-hued “Africa My Land”, and another Lynch chart that delights in the application of pleasing orchestral pastels, “Opening Up”, is by turns delicate and driving as the mood shifts from bossa to angular cha-cha grooves. The music of The Omni-American Book Club represents the most realized and accomplished expression of Lynch’s vision as a composer to date. 

The magic is made by the stellar big band that Lynch assembled for this project. This challenging music is expertly executed by an ensemble comprising Lynch’s teaching colleagues, students and recent alumni of The Frost School Of Music, University Of Miami, where Lynch has been a professor of Studio Music and Jazz since 2011, along with a selection of  world class musicians gracing the Miami area. Both in ensemble and solo work, their efforts and dedication to Lynch’s compositions resulted in the realization of his music to the highest order, and is a testament to the vibrancy of musical life in the South Florida region and in one of the world’s premier music schools – The Frost School Of Music. Recorded by Chris Palowitch in the Frost School’s state of the art L. Austin Weeks Center for Recording and Performance, and mixed and mastered by famed engineer Dave Darlington (winner of a Grammy for his work with on Lynch’s 2006 award winner Simpático), this album is a feast for the ears and a sonic delight.

Tying all the music together is the sound of Lynch’s trumpet. His focused and versatile facility on the instrument and expansive improvising lexicon sets him apart on the contemporary jazz landscape. His achievement in crafting an individual and recognizable voice from many influences, and utilizing that voice in many diverse playing contexts ranging from Eddie Palmieri to Phil Woods and even Prince, are reflected in his consistent presence in the jazz polls and on the lists of top trumpeters, including an award as Trumpeter Of The Year by The Jazz Journalists Association in 2017. But perhaps in the performance of his own original work one can most fully hear both the true accomplishment and the continued promise of Lynch’s work as an improvising trumpet player. Lynch stated his intentions to journalist Ted Panken for a Downbeat profile a few years ago: “…to blend everything together into something that has integrity and sounds good.  Not to sound like a pastiche or shifting styles; but like someone with a lot of range and understanding.” His playing on The Omni-American Book Club is one of the most complete expressions of this laudable goal that he’s yet achieved.

Art by Robin D. Williams

GEORGE KANZLER
NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
"This is music full of flair and brio, played with sharp precision and packed with inspiring solos as well as exciting, full-tilt ensemble passages. Lynch has certain stylistic tropes and gestures that carry from."
Read the full feature here.

 

AMANDA M. PEREZ
THE U 
Read the full feature here.

TRAVIS FIELDS
WLNR 
"Along with paying tribute to some of his favorite authors, his first big-band project gave Lynch an opportunity to work with some of his favorite musicians. Longtime colleagues such as saxophonists Donald Harrison and Jim Snidero, drummer and UM professor Dafnis Prieto and flutist Orlando “Maraca” Valle joined esteemed musicians such as violinist Regina Carter and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master saxophonist David Liebman to bring Lynch’s music to life." Read the full feature here.

JOHN WHITE
JAZZ JOURNAL 
"An accompanying illustrated booklet with delightful caricatures by Robin D. Williams also contains Lynch’s memories of his literary inspiration for every title. It could stand as a basic introduction to African-American history and present-day international race relations. But this enthralling and moving music also speaks for itself, and will definitely constitute one of my records of the year." Read the full review here.

 

FELIPE FREITAS
JAZZ TRAIL
"Brian Lynch, a Grammy award winning artist, has brought a new burning charisma to the Latin jazz genre, raising consciousness through a colorful consolidation of diverse musical cultures."  Review here

BOB WEINBERG
JAZZIZ
"It’s no accident that African-American thinkers feature prominently on his syllabus; his interest in their writing was sparked by a desire to find out more about the culture that created the music he loves." Review here

MIKE HOBART
FINANCIAL TIMES
"Trumpeter Brian Lynch's literature-inspired The Omni-American Book Club, released on Hollistic MusicWorks fuels the dynamic shifts and layers of brass with Latin Jazz and the occasional foray into modern jazz swing. Tracks are substantial, solos meaty, and the ensemble supple and tight. The experienced Brian Lynch is an engaging soloist with a neat balance of thoughtful lines and climactic highs."  Read the full article here.

RICHARD KAMINS
STEP TEMPEST
"There's so much music (nearly two hours over two CDs) on "The Omni-American Book Club", such a good ensemble, impressive writing, first-class soloists, and a reminder American music has deep roots in the numerous communities around the country and the world. The blend of blues, jazz, funk, Latin, Afro-Cuban, and more is so attractive plus the distinctive trumpet sounds and attack of Brian Lynch is powerful and so alive.  Highly recommended!!" Read the full review here

BOB WEINBERG
JAZZIZ
"It’s no accident that African-American thinkers feature prominently on his syllabus; his interest in their writing was sparked by a desire to find out more about the culture that created the music he loves." Review here

JACK BOWERS
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"As a paradigm of Lynch's level-headed assessment of the world in which we live, The Omni-American Book Club is superb; as a repository of emphatic, straight-from-the-heart big-band jazz, it's even better." Review here

ED ENRIGHT
DOWNBEAT
"The music captivates as unrelenting grooves, sparkling ensemble interplay and ripping solos take the listener on an exhilarating thrill-ride inspired by fearless intellectuals whose written works have had a life-changing effect on this socially conscious bandleader." Review here

JIM HYNES
GLIDE MAGAZINE
BEST OF 2019 
"This is an exciting big band album, one of the most fully realized you’ll hear this year or any year." Read the full review here

JEFF KROW
AUDIOPHILE AUDITION
"This Brian Lynch project should elicit fascination as to how Lynch’s exploration of major African American writers have led to his stature as a musician and composer. One can easily see how this CD project could be used in an historical African American literature class." Read the full review here.

MAL STANLEY
ABC.NET.AU JAZZ
"The American musician joins a host of heavyweight players on 'The Omni-American Book Club' - featuring tunes that connect his love of literature to music."  Read the full feature here.

SEB HELARY
NEXTBOP
Q&A Feature here

YVES SPORTIS
JAZZ HOT (FR)
"beautiful, very direct music, sophisticated without being hermetic or elitist..." Read the full French review here