The Transformations Suite (Self-Release)
Released October 12, 2016
DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review
Continuing in the tradition of artists like Bob Marley, Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday, and Tupac Shakur, THE TRANSFORMATIONS SUITE paints a musical picture of the current state of social inequality and injustice in the United States and beyond.
Samora Pinderhughes has spent the past five years writing, recording, and producing the T Suite, which combines music, theatre, and poetry to examine the radical history of resistance within communities of the African diaspora. The themes of the suite move through five distinct phases: Transformation, History, Cycles, Momentum (parts 1 and 2), and Ascension.
Within this framework, the project connects contemporary issues, such as the prison industrial complex and the Black Lives Matter movement, with the history of revolutionary movements of color.
The Transformations Suite has been performed throughout South America and the U.S., at venues including the American Museum of Natural History, the Harlem Arts Festival, Juilliard, UC Irvine, NYU, Joe’s Pub, the Jazz Gallery, MoMA, and Columbia University. Most recently, the project was featured as part of Blackout for Human Rights’ #MLKNow event which was viewed by over 500,000 people and trended #1 on Twitter.
Centered in the belief that there is a soundtrack to every revolution, the vision for The Transformations Suite is that it will foster dialogue on social justice issues throughout the world, show how art can create social change, contribute to the powerful growing movement on behalf of black lives around the country, and empower all people – especially youth – to make their voices heard.
1. Transformation (Christophe Abiel / Jeremie Harris / Samora Pinderhughes / Tupac Shakur / Saul Williams) 10:01
2. Histor (Jeremie Harris / Samora Pinderhughes / Tupac Shakur / Saul Williams) 08:24
3. Cycles (Jeremie Harris / Samora Pinderhughes / Tupac Shakur / Saul Williams) 10:03
4. Momentum, Pt. 1 (Jeremie Harris / Samora Pinderhughes / Tupac Shakur / Saul Williams) 11:44
5. Momentum, Pt. 2 (Jeremie Harris / Samora Pinderhughes / Tupac Shakur / Saul Williams) 07:04
6. Ascension (Jeremie Harris / Samora Pinderhughes / Tupac Shakur / Saul Williams) 11:22
Samora Pinderhughes: piano, spoken word
Jeremie Harris: spoken word
Elena Pinderhughes: flute, vocals
Jehbreal Muhammad Jackson: vocals
Riley Mulherkar: trumpet, flugelhorn
Lucas Pino: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Tony Lustig: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Clovis Nicolas: bass
Jimmy Macbride: drums
Charles Yang, Dima Dimitrova, Stephanie Yu, Kellen McDaniel: violins
Charlotte Steiner, Matthew Lipman: violas
Annie Hart, Mitch Lyon, Genevieve Guimond: cellos
Alex Jenkins: bass
Greg Knowles: conductor
Recorded at Sear Sound by Chris Allen
Produced by Greg Knowles and James Fallon
Ovedubs, Editing: James Fallon
Mixed by Elliot Scheiner
Mastered by Emily Lazar, Joe LaPorta
The Transformations Suite is a mix of theatrical poetry and jazz, played with the utmost passion and intensity. Envisioned by composer-director-pianist Samora Pinderhughes, funded via Kickstarter and brought to life with the help of flutist Elena Pinderhughes (Samora’s sister) and others, the album is broken up into five movements and six tracks that run for nearly an hour.
This work, which began while Pinderhughes was attending Juilliard in 2011, is here to soundtrack a revolution, and if Pinderhughes succeeds in one thing, it is creating a work of art that matches the intensity of these trou-bled times better than any Twitter hashtag or Facebook debate ever could. At times challenging, it is nonetheless a powerful work of art.
He eases into it. The opening title track begins with Pinderhughes’ pleasant piano playing. Before long, Jehbreal Muhammad Jackson is crooning, repeatedly, “Give us justice now,” a mission statement for the work.
Powerfully, saxophonist Lucas Pino follows suit as he delivers a robust solo that exclaims a similar message. at power comes to a rapid boil during “Momentum, Pt. 2” amidst claims that “we have got to change America” and screams of “now!”
The decompression follows with “Ascension,” complete with lyrics from the spir- itual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” It’s the most straightforward jazz moment on the album, but not without a detour into dramatic poetry that asks us to “give our thoughts wings, wrap us tight in rings of resistance, and let us fly.”
Chris Tart (DownBeat)