Tag: Grammy Awards

Lawrence Conservatory’s Albright in the mix on Bon Iver’s Grammy-nominated “i,i”

Tim Albright, assistant professor of music, and junior Allie Goldman play trombones during a teaching session Thursday in Shattuck Hall of Music.
Tim Albright, assistant professor of music in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, works Thursday with Allie Goldman ’21 during a trombone teaching session in Shattuck Hall. Albright and his trombone are on Bon Iver’s “i,i” album. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

“Justin took me aside to say he wants to share his studio with students, Lawrence students included. He wants his studio to be a place where budding musicians can experiment with recording and creating music.”  

—Tim Albright on Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon

———

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

When Grammy nominations were rolled out Wednesday, Bon Iver’s i,i snagged three of them, including in the headline-grabbing Album of the Year and Record of the Year categories. The album, released in summer, also is starting to show up on critics’ best-of-the-year lists.

That’s all of particular note to a Lawrence University music professor who lent his considerable trombone talents to the album.

Tim Albright, a professor in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, spent four days in recording sessions in Justin Vernon’s home studio in Eau Claire, part of a horn section dubbed the Worm Crew.

“The horn section was made up of the unusual combination of trumpet, French horn, two trombones, saxophone and bass harmonica,” Albright said. “It was an unconventional assortment of instruments, but the sound was gorgeous.”

Vernon, the creative mastermind behind Bon Iver, has carved a deeply respected reputation for collaboration and musical experimentation. His annual Eaux Claires music festival — it took a hiatus for 2019 with an expectation to return in 2020 — and other musical outreach has raised Eau Claire’s arts profile considerably. His home studio, 180 miles west of Appleton, has become known as a gathering place for talented musicians.

“We rehearsed and recorded for four days and nights,” Albright said of the recording sessions. “When we weren’t making music, we shared meals, slept in bunk beds, and listened to music in Vernon’s state-of-the art control room. I was struck by his warmth and hospitality. He made us all feel completely at home, which helped the music come alive. 

“I think the album sounds amazing.”

Indeed, it does.

The album, Bon Iver’s fourth, was one of eight nominated for album of the year. The track “Hey, Ma” (it features Albright’s trombone) got a nod for Record of the Year, and the album also was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album. The Grammys will be held Jan. 26.

Cover of Bon Iver's "i,i"
Bon Iver’s “i,i” earned three music Grammy nods and a fourth for album packaging.

Esquire magazine included the album on its list of 50 Best Albums of 2019 (So Far), posted on Nov. 11.

“Twelve years after the seminal album For Emma, Forever Ago, Wisconsin singer Justin Vernon and his extended band find new ways to break your heart with their unusual indie-folk music,” Olivia Ovenden writes. “As on 22, A Million, follow-up i,i is filled with noodling jazz riffs, auto-tuned vocals and glitchy electronic samples.”

Esquire points in particular to the song “Salem,” which features Albright. “A patter of soft bleeping notes layer over each other and lift into a euphoric chorus which cries, ‘So I won’t lead no lie / With our hearts the only matter why.’”

Craig Jenkins of Vulture calls the album one of the best of the year.

“The lyrics are heavy on close inspection, but the music makes them buoyant,” he writes.

Making a connection

Albright’s connection to Vernon and Bon Iver comes via a trumpet player friend who had hooked him up in the mid-2000s for a recording session with The National, a then-unknown band that was preparing for the release of the album Boxer.

“I’ve known CJ for about 15 years from my time working in New York City,” Albright said. “When the band The National was just getting started, he said, ‘I wonder if you could come out to my friend Bryce’s house and record for a group called The National. I think they’re going to become big.’ Not thinking much of it, I took the train out to a tree-lined street in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, to record a one-minute fanfare in a stranger’s living room.”

Bryce turned out to be Bryce Dessner, one of the founding members of The National. And the trumpet player friend would prove prophetic. Boxer would indeed put the band on the map.

It was a couple of months later when Albright and his wife were walking through the Atlantic Terminal Shopping Mall in Brooklyn when he heard a new song playing overhead. It caught his ear.

“I nudged her and said, ‘Hey, listen, there’s trombone on that record,’” Albright said. “A moment later I realized the trombone player was me from the track I had recorded in Ditmas.”

That same trumpet player friend reached out to Albright again in 2018 when Vernon was looking for collaborators on his coming album. They needed a trombone.

In a media statement he released just prior to the release of i,i, Vernon noted contributions from a bevy of musicians, some with widely recognized names like Bryce Dessner and Bruce Hornsby, others more under the radar.

“This project began with a single person, but throughout the last 11 years, the identity of Bon Iver has bloomed and can only be defined by the faces in the ever-growing family we are,” Vernon said.

Albright, on the Lawrence faculty since 2016 and a member of the Atlantic Brass Quintet, is now part of that extended Bon Iver family. He doesn’t know if he’ll get to record with the band again, but he knows having that connection with Vernon could build other important bridges, perhaps involving his Lawrence students.

“Justin took me aside to say he wants to share his studio with students, Lawrence students included,” Albright said. “He wants his studio to be a place where budding musicians can experiment with recording and creating music. He cares deeply about giving back to the Wisconsin community that helped shape his musical voice.”

In the meantime, Albright will cherish his contributions to an album that will almost certainly be showing up on additional best-of lists between now and the end of the year. His name is all over the credits, which isn’t a bad place to be.

“It’s fun to be in that world, to touch a little bit of stardom,” Albright said.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Lawrence welcomes jazz legend Joe Lovano

Grammy Award-winning saxophonist/composer Joe Lovano showcases his conceptual and thematic ventures Friday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. in a Lawrence University 2017-18 Jazz Series Concert. J

Joining Lovano on stage will be his Classic Quartet bandmates: Lawrence Fields, piano, Peter Slavov, bass and Lamy Istrefi, drums.

Saxophonist Joe LovanoTickets for the performance in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Lovano’s career has been defined by his creative efforts to find new modes of artistic expression and new ways to define the jazz idiom. With his bandmates, Lovano explores the rich history of mainstream jazz through swing and bebop, driving the edges while honoring the structures of straight-ahead jazz.

José Encarnación, director of jazz studies at Lawrence and an accomplished saxophonist in his own right, calls Lovano “one of my favorites jazz artists of all time.”

“I love every single one of his recordings,” said Encarnacion, who had the pleasure of meeting Lovano in the 1990s while performing at a jazz festival in Puerto Rico with the Bob Mintzer Big Band. “Joe’s music is always fresh, rooted on the tradition but always moving forward with new sounds and adventurous musical stories.”

A 12-time Grammy Award nominee, Lovano won the trophy in 2000 in the best large jazz ensemble album category for his work on “52nd Street Themes.” That same year, he topped both the readers and critics polls in DownBeat magazine as tenor saxophonist of the year. DownBeat named Lovano its jazz artist of the year twice, including 2010 when he captured the magazine’s “triple crown”: tenor saxophonist, jazz artist and jazz group (Joe Lovano Us 5) of the year.

His discography includes 28 albums as leader and more than 50 others as either co-leader or sideman.

Lovano has taught as the Gary Burton Chair in Jazz Performance as an artist-in-residence at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

eighth blackbird opens Lawrence’s 2015-16 Artist Series

The Grammy Award-winning eighth blackbird unleashes its provocative and mind-changing style Friday, Oct. 2 in the opening concert of Lawrence University’s four-part 2015-16 Artist Series.

The performance begins at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Tickets, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors and $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.Eighth-Blackbird_newsblog

The Chicago-based sextet — Matthew Duvall, percussion; Nathalie Joachim, flutes; Lisa Kaplan, piano; Yvonne Lam, violin & viola; Michael Maccaferri, clarinets; and Nicholas Photinos, cello — has won over audiences with its kinetic style that combines rock band energy with string quartet finesse and storefront theater audacity.

“Eighth blackbird brings a level of engagement to their performances that is singular and remarkable,” said David Bell, associate professor of music at Lawrence who teaches clarinet. “I can’t think of another ensemble that brings more to the stage, or offers more to their audience. Regardless of the kind of music you gravitate toward, hearing eighth blackbird will make you want more of whatever they might be doing that night, which is probably going to be completely different the next time you hear them.”

The ensemble’s discography includes 13 recordings, including three that have been recognized with Grammy Awards: “strange imaginary animals,” 2008, Best Chamber Music Performance and Classical Producer of the Year (Judith Sherman); “Lonely Motel: Music from Slide,” 2011, Best Small Ensemble Performance; “Meanwhile,” 2012, Best Small Ensemble Performance and Contemporary Classical Composition (Stephen Hartke).

“Eighth blackbird brings a level of engagement to their performances that is singular and remarkable. I can’t think of another ensemble that brings more to the stage, or offers more to their audience.”
– David Bell

In his review for New York City’s WQXR of the ensemble’s latest project, “Filament,” released this September, Daniel Stephen Johnson said “As meticulous as their programming may be, on concert or on recordings, it is seldom as intensely focused as it is on their latest album.”

Founded in 1996 at, the group derived its name from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens’ 1917 poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” All former students at the Oberlin Conservatory, they hold Ensemble-in-Residence positions at the University of Chicago and the University of Richmond.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Pianist Robert Glasper brings his brand of acoustic jazz roots to Lawrence Memorial Chapel

Versatile pianist and composer Robert Glasper and his band, the Robert Glasper Trio, showcases his forthcoming album “Covered” Friday, May 1 at 8 p.m. in the final concert of the 2014-15 Lawrence University Jazz Series.

Robert-Glasper_newsblog
Robert Glasper previews his forthcoming album “Covered” May 1 in the final 2014-15 Jazz Series concert.

Tickets for the Lawrence Memorial Chapel concert, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors and $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

In “Covered,” Glasper returns to his acoustic jazz roots while continuing to explore the hip-hop and R&B sound that earned him two Grammy Awards for his albums “Black Radio” and “Black Radio 2.

The album, which is scheduled for official release June 16, was recorded live in front of an intimate gathering of invited guests in Capitol Records’ historic Studio A. The first single from the album, “Reckoner,” a cover of the Radiohead song, was made available to all streaming services and digital retailers on April 22.

“Robert Glasper is unmistakable for his gospel-infused sound,” said Lawrence associate professor of music Mark Urness, bassist with the Lawrence Faculty Jazz Quartet. “He has amazingly collaborated with the top artists in jazz and R&B and is one of the busiest pianists and composers today.

“His two Grammy Awards are testament to the universal appeal of his lyrical, soulful style,” Urness added. “Whether it is complex original jazz compositions, or covers of Radiohead, the Glasper Trio always delivers lyrical melodies, compelling harmonies and a joyous groove.”

The New York Times locates Glasper’s signature eclectic, referential style at the “junction of coolheaded logic and digressive caprice.” The new album features songs by hip-hop and R&B stars like Kendrick Lamar, Musiq Soulchild, John Legend and Bilal alongside jazz standards like “Stella by Starlight” and works by Radiohead and Joni Mitchell.

Joining Glasper onstage will be bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Damion Reid, with whom Glasper recorded his first two Blue Notes releases, “Canvas” (2005) and “In My Element” (2007). He cites Archer and Reid as two of his favorite musicians and the perfect collaborators for an album blending old and new sounds. NPR lauded the trio as “a shape-shifting, communicative unit” able to showcase Glasper’s “supple, flowing lines…sostenuto melodies…moody harmonies.”

In addition to working on “Covered,” Glasper composed and recorded the score for “Miles Ahead,” Don Cheadle’s upcoming film about Miles Davis. He also has been combing through Davis’ Columbia Records vaults and will create a remix album based on the legendary trumpeter’s recordings, rehearsals and outtakes.

He was recently named a Steinway Artist, joining the roster of world-class musicians who perform exclusively on Steinway pianos.

Glasper’s concert is a rescheduled appearance from an originally schedule performance for January 30 that had to be cancelled due to a film project conflict.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.