Renee Rosnes: Beloved of the Sky

by Tom Faddis

Pianist and composer Renee Rosnes takes inspiration from painter Emily Carr on her new album, Beloved of the Sky. The album with be available on double vinyl LP, Deluxe 8- panel, CD Digipak and Hi-Res downloads from your favorite sites starting April 6, 2018.

Rosnes presents nine tracks on the project that explore the beauty and wonder to be found in life’s more subtle joys: the splendor of nature, the mysteries of the universe, the comforts of home, the treasured memories of lost loved ones, and the simple warmth of an inside joke. Joining Rosnes is: saxophonist Chris Potter, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Lenny White. Combine these players with Rosnes ivory skills and compositions and you have a wealth of experience, skill and imagination runs through the music from start to finish. In the artwork of Emily Carr (1871-1945), Rosnes finds a kindred spirit — not just in their mutual concern for humanity and the environment, but also in their common origins in western Canada. Carr’s work often depicts landscapes familiar to Rosnes childhood, and a shared fascination of the art and culture of the First Nations people.

Opening with a Rosnes original, “Elephant Dust,” it is clear that we are in for a musical adventure, filled with soundscapes and sonic colors framed by an amazing band! The title comes from the pianist’s mother, who, after touching an elephant at a circus, suggested she was allergic to elephant dust, after suffering a violent reaction. The tempo creates the energy and urgency, as Washington and White create a sound canvas that Potter and Rosnes paint their colorful sound upon. Potter’s tenor saxophone playing as per usual, is amazing, his musical ideas are crystalline clear, and his rhythmic clarity is sublime. The interaction between Rosnes and Potter is toothsome. The compositions have a wonderful melody and Rosnes again shows her prowess as both a composer and a player.

“Mirror Image” pays tribute to the legendary vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, who passed away in August 2016. Nelson’s vibraphone sings as the composition unfolds. His energy is focused as his lines build to form musical sentences as he tells his story with great passion. Rosnes’ solo style is just like her compositions, creative, full of subtle nuances and above all, lyrical and playful. The band is full of passion and musical investigation central to all great jazz.

Rosnes bring us another creative project Beloved of the Sky. The music contained on the album is full of technically gifted musicians that transcend as a group to a level that is communitive and lyrical with each players heart and soul coming through with every note. The band has a wonderful rapport and it is a joy to listen to the ingenious explorations between the band members. Beloved of the Sky is a courageous and outstanding album in its unique musical beauty and statement.

Tracks to sample first: “Elephant Dust,” “Mirror Image,” and “Black Holes.” The song to take a chance on is “Let the Wild Rumpus Start.”

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