Release date: June 4, 2021
Label: Waiting Moon Records
Tim Hagans is a 3x GRAMMY-nominated composer and trumpeter. Hagans' upcoming release, A Conversation, is an all-new, original multi-movement concerto performed by the NDR Bigband. On A Conversation, Hagans introduces a musical narrative that is meant to explore, to illuminate, and perhaps, to resolve an exchange of ideas. Hagans’ latest addition to his canon of inventive large ensemble albums will be released on June 4, 2021 via the artist’s own Waiting Moon Records label. A Conversation is Hagans’ 17th recording as a leader, and his fourth recorded collaboration with the NDR Bigband.
Tim Hagans’ illustrious career as a composer began with his tenure performing and recording with the great Thad Jones. “To me, the power of Thad’s writing was that it came directly from his own distinct voice on the trumpet. I remember visiting him in his home. Thad would sit at a table with score paper and his cornet. Those were all the tools he needed to create extraordinary music,” recalls Hagans. It was Jones who encouraged Hagans to write music, and Hagans’ first composition appeared on his Live at Slukefter LP. This propelled Hagans’ career forward; one that includes a 15-year tenure as Artistic Director and Composer-In-Residence for the Norrbotten Big Band, three years as a member of the Stan Kenton Orchestra, six recordings as a leader for the Blue Note label, and fruitful collaborations with such luminaries as Dexter Gordon, Joe Lovano, Bob Belden, Ernie Wilkins as well as with the innovative Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble.
For two decades, Hagans has collaborated with the NDR Bigband (also known as the Hamburg Radio Jazz Orchestra) in a variety of roles including guest composer, conductor, arranger and soloist. “Part of what excites me about composing and arranging for the great NDR Bigband is to meet the challenge of creating a sophisticated score while at the same time preserving the spontaneity of a trio or a quintet,” says Hagans. On this five-movement exploration, the composer’s musical conception and innovation extends far beyond the physical score – its emotional intrigue and unique overall sound is affected by Hagans’ decision to physically group the musicians not by section as is traditional, but by sonic and emotional divisions – each one of the four ensembles assembled by the composer charged with different objectives. Hagans’ singular and evocative improvisational prowess is portrayed here beautifully throughout the concerto.
“Movement I” of A Conversation introduces audiences to the NDR Bigband’s spirited ensemble sound. Repeated refrains ricochet from ensemble to ensemble with varying degrees of intensity and with increasing harmonic and rhythmic intrigue before the ensemble falls into a groove driven by a piano and bass ostinato. The piece features transportive improvisation from pianist Vladyslav Sendecki. “When I compose, I’m drawing on my own musical voice to create melody and form,” reflects Hagans, adding “…my writing also reflects musical events that happen often in small group settings—tempo changes, free playing, and so forth—and these become expanded to a big band setting.”
“Movement II” begins on a serene note, exploring elements of ambience and gradually descending into cacophony before establishing a pared down central theme. Baritone saxophonist Daniel Buch and bassist Ingmar Heller offer stunning solos in this movement. “Movement III” begins with Sendecki and Heller performing in a duo context, as the piece expands in instrumentation, entropy reigns with discordant refrains echoed by the horns. Tim Hagans with trumpeters Stephen Meinberg and Claus Stötter, saxophonist Peter Bolte and trombonist Stefan Lottermann are all featured soloists on this vibrant selection.
“Movement IV” kicks off with a passionate solo trumpet by Hagans, leading into a stately, deliberate groove. Cleverly executed feel changes underscore improvisation by saxophonist and flutist Fiete Felsch, percussionist Marcio Doctor as well as by the composer. A Conversation’s final piece, “Movement V” begins by painting an idyllic landscape which transitions into a calming duet for Hagans and pianist Sendecki, followed by a driving, bright-tempoed section featuring a solo by trombonist Klaus Heidenreich. The movement concludes by returning to the spirited themes presented in the beginning, bringing the conversation full circle to a questioning close. Hagans notes “Ultimately, I wouldn’t mind if the listener agrees with a quotation I very much like from Guy de Maupassant: “Conversation … What is it? A mystery!”’
More About the NDR Bigband:
Unique among Germany’s radio big bands, the NDR Bigband is a jazz ensemble composed of premier soloists of diverse backgrounds and influences whose collective endeavors coalesce to produce an original and striking group sound for a large ensemble.
After leaving behind traditional radio entertainment, prime-time TV shows and the rest of everyday light music, the ensemble has focused their energies on pursuing creative music. Known to perform various stylistic programs ranging from swing, latin, to avant-garde, the NDR Bigband sounds different on each occasion, yet retains a unifying character that is immediately recognizable.
The NDR Bigband includes saxophonists Fiete Felsch, Frank Delle, Peter Bolte, Daniel Buch, and Christof Lauer; trumpeters Ingolf Burkhardt, Clause Stötter, Stephan Meinberg, and Thorsten Benkenstein; trombonists Klaus Heidenreich, Dan Gottshall, Stefan Lottermann and Ingo Lahme; percussionists Jukkis Uotila and Marcio Doctor; guitarist Ed Harris, bassist Ingmar Heller and pianist Vladyslav Sendecki.
"A Conversation" is splendid music, covering a wide swath of musical territory, never sounding cliched, the pieces played with feeling, emotion, and, at times, great fire. Kudos to Tim Hagans and to his compatriots at the NDR BigBand – this music sings, swings, rocks, and soothes, human interaction at its best. Read this review here.
LAST ROW MUSIC
3x GRAMMY-nominated composer and trumpeter Tim Hagans is pleased to announce the release of A Conversation, an all-new, original multi-movement concerto performed by the NDR Bigband. On A Conversation, Hagans introduces a musical narrative that is meant to explore, to illuminate, and perhaps, to resolve an exchange of ideas. Hagans’ latest addition to his canon of inventive large ensemble albums will be released on June 4, 2021 via the artist’s own Waiting Moon Records label. A Conversation is Hagans’ 17th recording as a leader, and his fourth recorded collaboration with the NDR Bigband. Read more here.
"Hagans emerges as a soloist, open and muted, in the last three movements demonstrating that he remains in powerful command of his instrument but his achievement here is in creating a vivid music tapestry of divergent influences whilst showcasing the formidable capabilities of his instrumentalists." Review here.
The complexity and creativity of composer Tim Hagans can be heard in this disc, which is being released on Friday. Read more here.
"A Conversation is far more than just talk; it’s an astounding accomplishment by one of the leading visionaries of the international jazz scene." Read the full review here.
GEORGE W. HARRIS
"Veteran post bop trumpeter Tim Hagans with the explorative NDR Big Band for a five movement opus that resembles vintage Mingus in terms of looseness and adventurous swing." Read the full review here.
Read the full 'Blindfold Test' in the July 2021 issue of Downbeat Magazine
DEE DEE MCNEIL
"You will experience a very evocative and improvisational production, portrayed beautifully and invigorated by the amazing musicians who take part in these unique arrangements." Read the full review here.