Infinite Winds (Sunnyside Records)

MIT Wind Ensemble & MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble

Released April 14, 2015

DownBeat Five-Star Review




Music composition has long been the home of brilliance and discovery. Many composers prove their genius by bending sound, rhythm and texture into new concepts in aural art. It is no surprise that the illustrious Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosts two of the best student driven ensembles in the country, the MIT Wind Ensemble (MITWE) and the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (FJE). 
The FJE was established by the great trumpeter/bandleader/educator Herb Pomeroy in 1963, while the MITWE was established in 1999 by Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr., who now directs both ensembles. The groups are made up of undergraduate and graduate students from MIT and have been instrumental in performing new compositions from a broad range of composers. 
On their new and musically diverse release Infinite Winds, the MIT Wind Ensemble and the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble present three long form compositions by three innovative and highly regarded composers: Guillermo Klein, Chick Corea and Don Byron. The Corea and Byron pieces are world première recordings on this Sunnyside release. Klein’s Solar Return Suite and Byron’s Concerto For Clarinet and Wind Ensemble feature special guest soloists, saxophonist Bill McHenry and clarinetist Evan Ziporyn, respectively. 
Klein’s involvement with Dr. Harris began in the mid-1990s when Klein was living in Boston, collaborating with big bands and even a string ensemble. It was only natural that Harris would reach out to Klein and commission a piece for the MITWE. Klein provided a work in seven movements entitled Solar Return Suite, his first and only composition for wind ensemble, which was recorded live in May 2006. The piece also features a beautiful, largely improvised saxophone performance from McHenry, a regular collaborator with Klein. 
Solar Return Suite drew inspiration from a number of sources. Klein utilized a symmetrical diminished mode (or octatonic scale) that he found repeatedly in the work of one of his favorite composers, Olivier Messiaen. The same mode can be found in composers as diverse as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker , and Rimsky-Korsakov. Lastly, Klein drew inspiration from the Cátaros (or Cathars), a heretical Christian movement with roots in Byzantine Anatolia that was viciously suppressed by the Roman Church. The Cathars believed there were two principles, good and evil. Good was represented by the God of the Old Testament, while evil was represented by Satan and his creations, including the human body. Salvation was achieved through consolamentum, a ritual baptism by fire instead of water, allowing the spirit to escape the body. 
Pianist/composer Chick Corea has had a long and illustrious career as a jazz performer and conceptualist. His MIT connection goes back to his teen years in Massachusetts when Corea played trumpet and piano in a jazz sextet he formed with MIT students. It was Herb Pomeroy who offered Corea his first professional club gig as a bandleader, opening for the Herb Pomeroy Big Band. It was in tribute to Pomeroy and the 50th Anniversary of the MIT jazz program that Corea composed From Forever (Suite for Big Band Dedicated to Herb Pomeroy). The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble does the music justice as it performs the sweeping, swinging piece with sincerity and depth. 
Clarinetist/composer Don Byron has been an eclectic music stylist and innovator since the early 1980s. From jazz and modern classical to hip-hop, Byron has brought his unique audacity that has won him fans worldwide. It was no surprise that his Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble would be inspired by the esoteric film and television scores composed by Leonard Rosenman. The Brooklyn born composer was well known for his scoring work for films like Barry Lyndon and Bound for Glory but might be best known for writing the theme to the television show Combat!. 
It was Rosenman’s dramatic flair along with Byron’s appreciation for the Second Viennese School military music and the 20th Century modernists’ developments in writing with clustered, tenseness that informed the writing for the Concerto. Direct references to marching music were written into the three movements, which provided a fantastic setting for solo clarinet, performed here by the tremendous clarinetist (and brilliant composer) Evan Ziporyn. 
The MIT Wind and Festival Jazz Ensembles’ recording Infinite Winds presents a wonderfully broad range of musical styles from composers who have surpassed the limits of jazz and modern classical composing. The pieces by Klein, Corea and Byron differ greatly but are performed skillfully by the two ensembles, highlighting all their nuances and dynamic vitality.

Track Listing:

Solar Return Suite (Guillermo Klein), featuring Bill McHenry (tenor saxophone) and the MIT Wind Ensemble

1. Terrenal 1:32

2. Pulmón 3:42

3. Cátaros 4:33

4. Between the Lines 3:55

5. Platense 5:37

6. Camello 3:54

7. Solar Return 4:41

From Forever (Chick Corea), featuring the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble

8. Suite for Big Band dedicated to Herb Pomeroy 16:15

Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble (Don Byron), featuring Evan Ziporyn (clarinet) and the MIT Wind Ensemble

9. Tarantella 5:09

10. Ballade 5:03

11. Fast Stuff 4:07


Conductor: Frederick Harris

Trumpet: Mark Harvey, Brandon Reese, Brian Olson, Matthew Putnam, Daniel Goodman, Ariel Wexler, Olivier Koch, Michael Edalgo, Dun “Shield” Ixao, Douglas Cattie, Vio Wolf, Tamir Edut, Sarvesh Garimella, Don Goswell (flugelhorn)

Clarinet: Evan Ziporyn, Kathy Yang, Matt Carson, Daniel Steele, Beth Hadley, Analisa Russo, Ofir Nachum, Neil Zimmerman, Maria Duaime, Mark Reed (bass), Kyle Veldman, Grace Atherton, Gary Chia, Emily Thomson, Susannah Brown, Stephanie Marzen, Stanley Gill, Shaunalynn Duffy, Richard Uhler (bass), Adam Rosenfield

Saxophones: Bill McHenry (tenor), Collin Johnson (tenor), Chad Iverson (alto), Anina Rich (baritone), Max Maybury (alto), Julie Bharucha (alto), James Arana (tenor), Heidi Holley (baritone), Dylan Sherry (soprano and tenor), Colleen Josephson (baritone), Shankar Raman (tenor), Sam Heilbroner (alto)

Trombone: David Newell, Tom Walker, Kenneth McEaney (bass), Chris Reade, Chris Bobko, Andrew Koche, Christian Derr, Nicholas Bozard, Nat Twarog, Molly Furlong, Ido Meshulam, Zachary Sather, Rodrigo Paniza, Richard Dickert (bass), Philip Ilten  

Tuba: Kenneth Amis, Ilana Porter, Thomas K. Walker, Robert Mortenson

Euphonium: Michael Mooney

Flute: Shannon Taylor, Yi Huang, Caitlin Sample, Lori Huberman, Lisa Song, Grace Yuen, Eric Shiue, Qinqin Yu, Emily Su (piccolo)

French Horn: Matthew Putnam, Allison Akins, Marina Krickler, Kathryn Shroyer, Jill Rowehl, Ethan Dininno, Tom Hsu, Scott Stransky

English Horn: Sha-Har Admoni, Elizabeth England

Bassoon: Sarah Abrahams, Nicholas Dibella, Mike Westberry, Luke Varland, Jeffrey Easley  

Oboe: Jessica Young, Paul Schwein, Marissa Buschmohle, Lars Johnson, Jaclyn Belleville 

Piccolo: Kaitlyn Becker

Harp: Christina Chestnut

Vibes: Will Grathwohl

Percussion: Richard Arnold, Lorenzo Levy, Brad Schiller (timpani), Aston Motes, Otto Briner, Mark Chilenski, Kurt Stiehl, Jean Sack, Jackson Fitzgerald (timpani), Christian Lyman, Tiffany Cheng, Simone Ovsey, Daniel Smithwick (drums)

Piano: Guillermo Klein, Anirudh Arun, Peter Godart

Celeste: Christine Yu

Guitar: Devon Rosner, Roberto Rangel

Electric Bass: Adrian Grossman 


On this impressive recording, two MIT ensembles, ably led by director Fred Harris Jr., perform with discipline and conviction on demanding suites that fuse time-honored jazz and wind-band traditions. Argentine pianist Guillermo Klein’s austere “Solar Return Suite” draws on octatonic scales from reeds, brass and a crystalline percussion section. Its textures evoke majestic sweeps of the Patagonian Andes, as Bill McHenry’s tenor sax soars like a condor beneath the pitiless sun. Chick Corea’s genial “From Forever” (a tribute to mentor Herb Pomeroy on the 50th anniversary of the MIT program he founded) showers solos on those leaping to challenge, notably pianist Peter Godart, vibraphonist Will Grathwohl and saxophonists Sam Heilbroner and Dylan Sherry. Don Byron’s “Concerto” zestily pits fellow clarinetist Evan Ziporyn in meticulous craftsmanship opposite spiky winds in three increasingly dramatic—and difficult—movements. Pounding martial rhythms and feral, whirlwind motifs conjure shades of Chavez, Adams, Stravinsky. This entire celebratory undertaking—world premieres, MIT’s debut commercial jazz venture, tip-top playing— merits a “Bravo!”

Fred Bouchard (DownBeat)