Release celebrations with live performances:
Friday, July 7th, Arts + Literature Laboratory, Madison WI
Friday, July 28, Thrasher Opera House, Green Lake WI
Paul Dietrich - trumpet/compositions
Dustin Laurenzi - tenor sax
Paul Bedal - piano
Tim Ipsen - acoustic & electric bass
Andrew Green - drums
special guest: Katie Ernst - voice
Story: Trumpeter/Composer, Paul Dietrich embarks on second album with 10 new boundary-expanding compositions
With the release of his band's second album, Focus, trumpeter and composer Paul Dietrich further hones his distinctive style. This genre-blurring album features Dietrich's characteristic lush harmonies and subtle melodies, gliding over a fresh, rhythmically adventurous framework. For Dietrich, the essence of Focus exists in a liminal space between introspective simplicity and organized chaos.
This duality can be partially explained by looking at Dietrich's early musical influences. The product of a musical family, Paul grew up in a household where hearing different kinds of music was an integral part of daily life. “I grew up hearing a lot of jazz and classical music from my parents, while my older brother listened mainly to progressive rock and metal.” Upon Paul's immersion in the jazz world, he found himself drawn to music that incorporated aspects from a wide array of styles. “A lot of the music I love walks the line between jazz, classical music, and prog rock, music that kind of challenges the boundaries of what we're used to classifying as genre.”
Particularly influential to Dietrich's boundary-expanding efforts is the Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan. “His music, for me, walks that fine line where it's intellectually stimulating but it's also really listenable. It grooves so hard, but in fascinating ways.” We can hear this in Dietrich's music on a track such as “The Quick Turn,” which builds an engrossing groove over an odd-metered rhythmic ostinato.
The inclusion of vocalist Katie Ernst for several of Focus's tracks (including “The Quick Turn”) reveals another way that Hamasyan's influence can be seen. “I'd never used a singer in any of my music before, but I love the blend and depth of sound that wordless vocals can add to a melody.” Ernst can also be heard on “Prologue,” “Look,” and “Rush,” a repetitive, hypnotic track that evokes minimalists such as Steve Reich.
“Rush,” along with the contemplative “Settle,” sit apart from the other tracks in one way – they were originally written for big band. “I try to keep my big band writing and my small group writing separate. They're different beasts, with different strengths and weaknesses. But I liked playing those two so much that I wanted to see if I could adapt them.” The result is two cinematic pieces that seem to fill more space than a five piece band should be able to fill.
Indeed, much of this album conjures up imagery, no surprise coming from Dietrich, an avid movie buff. “I've seen the power that a soundtrack can have over a movie. A good soundtrack can completely set the tone of a film, and it can really have total control over how a viewer will interpret it.” This album tries to capture that power, but leaves the interpreting up to listener. The song titles are intentionally vague. “I want the listener to feel something, but I don't want to dictate what that something might be. I know what these songs mean to me, but I want them to mean something else to the listener.”
Focus features incredible performances by the members of the Chicago-based quintet, a group that has been performing with the same lineup since 2012. The ensemble emanates a cohesiveness that can only exist after that much time together, sounding totally comfortable within the sometimes complex idiom of Dietrich's compositions. The group features two natives of Kenosha, Wisconsin, bassist Tim Ipsen and saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, and pianist Paul Bedal is the only member of the group originally from Chicagoland. Dietrich goes back furthest with drummer Andrew Green, originally from Washington D.C. The two were classmates starting in 2006 at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
What results is incredibly fresh and exhilarating set of compositions that when absorbed individually or on a whole captivate and invigorate the listener while simultaneously offering something comfortable.
released May 19, 2017
Recorded and mixed by Vijay Tellis-Nayak at Transient Sound Chicago
Mastered by Brian Schwab in Chicago
Produced by Paul Dietrich
Album design by Paul Dietrich & Jamie Breiwick
Cover photo by Lisiane Detaille
Paul Dietrich is endorsed by Edwards Instrument Company
Contemporary, yet steeped in an understanding and love of the genre, Kirchner's compositions are first rate, the covers judiciously selected, and the playing throughout is absolutely first rate. Hard to pick anyone out, but the bass clarinet is just sublime.
Stellar performances and terrific compositions. This is seriously good jazz, deeply spiritual in many ways, but with a confident, energised spring in its step.
Sure to be one of the standout jazz releases of 2018. Michael Mueller