Imagine if Sun Ra, Steve Reich and Sonic Youth met up on the Silk Road . . . . with Maria Schneider and Darcy James Argue along for the ride too.
It might sound like the start to a bizarre joke, but this is in fact the creative impetus behind Brian Boyes’ new 20-piece musical project, The Saturn People’s Sound Collective.
The Vermont composer, trumpeter and educator has been dreaming up this ensemble for the past two years. “In the winter of 2010 I was conducting an all-star high school jazz ensemble and I decided to re-arrange some of my older jazz septet compositions for the big band setting. It was then that I had a brief glimpse into the potential of my work for a large jazz ensemble. Specifically, I was experimenting with the sonic potential of my jazz writing when mixed with elements of Steve Reich’s minimalism, jazz improvisation and Middle Eastern tonal frameworks.”
Those familiar with the work of Brian Boyes, however, know that he is no stranger when it comes to working with large ensembles; his most recent work has been as trumpeter and co-leader of the 13-piece Movement of the People: The Fela Kuti Project, not to mention his history with the 10-piece acid jazz sensation, viperHouse.
Boyes’ ambitious new project, entitled The Saturn People’s Sound Collective is a 20-piece ensemble that draws onthe creative influences of the Mingus, Ellington and Sun Ra big band traditions to realize a 21st century nu-world sound that combines jazz, minimalist music, post-rock long-form melodic sensibilities and global music.
“I know that it’s a bit of a mouthful,” comments Boyes, “But at the end of the day, it’s really just about writing and playing some compelling and joyful music . . . Ideally I am striving to create challenging listening music that isn’t a challenge to listen to.”
Made possible by a competitive annual award from Goddard College, the ensemble’s sold-out debut performance sent shockwaves through the musical community. Says veteran Vermont musician and composer Michael Chorney, “Simply one of the best concerts I have ever heard by anyone, local or not.”