release date: March 20, 2020 via Tapestry Records.
“The New Immigrant Experience might be recognized as a masterpiece in years to come, but today, its relevance adds to its impact…It’s about hearing what often-neglected people have been trying to get others to hear—a goal that Salles achieves brilliantly.”
– Bob Doerschuk, DownBeat
The two CD/DVD set, featuring the 18-piece Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble, is a powerful new multimedia work inspired by the lives of “Dreamers,” the almost seven hundred thousand individuals currently protected by DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Written by Salles –who emigrated from Brazil to the United States in 1995 – and developed with the aid of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, the work uses speech cadences and melodic motifs based on key words as its main source of musical material. The compelling and personal stories it tells were collected through interviews Salles conducted with a group of nine Dreamers during the summer of 2018.
The New Immigrant Experience premiered in April 2019 in New York City and Massachusetts and was subsequently recorded in the studio. The recording was then recombined with live video excerpts, created by Fernanda Faya, creating an experience that gives full-throated voice to immigrant groups in the United States today.
Written by Salles –who emigrated from Brazil to the United States in 1995 – and developed with the aid of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, the work uses speech cadences and melodic motifs based on key words as its main source of musical material. The compelling and personal stories it tells were collected through interviews Salles conducted with a group of nine Dreamers during the summer of 2018. Videos of the interviews were created by Fernanda Faya. Individual stories and experiences of growing up bilingual and undocumented also informed musical choices.
It’s an emotional musical journey through beautiful orchestral textures, carefully developed motifs, and intense solo features, that combine the power of a big band recording and the dramatic landscape of a soundtrack.
Premiered in April 2019 at performances in New York City and Massachusetts, The New Immigrant Experience was subsequently recorded in the studio. The recording was then recombined with live video excerpts, creating an experience that gives full-throated voice to immigrant groups in the United States today.
Salles gained firsthand knowledge of the issues surrounding DACA and the Dreamers after befriending classical pianist Tereza Lee, the original inspiration behind the DREAM Act. After writing The Lullaby Project (2018), a large-scale work inspired by the cross-generational importance of Brazilian lullabies as part of a cultural identity for immigrant families like Salles’, The New Immigrant Experience was a natural continuation of his artistic vision and the perfect vehicle to contribute to the discussion regarding the place and value of immigrants in America during these turbulent political times.
The New Immigrant Experience is a complete work of art, whether one experiences the music alone or in combination with the DVD, or in live performance with videos projected behind the band. The full project had been published on the YT channel and is available for public.
Since its inception in 2016, The Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble has brought together modern large jazz ensemble writing, contemporary classical textures and Latin American rhythmic influences in a unique way. The music represents the interconnection between many cultural influences, ranging from Brazilian, American, Argentinean, and European musical sources. The approach to composition, using layers of melodic and rhythmic counterpoint, also expresses the inter-connectivity behind the musical product. In addition, the exploration of individual improvisation, as a contrast to collective playing, adds another dimension to the ensemble’s sound.
In 2018 The Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble released its critically acclaimed debut recording, The Lullaby Project and Other Works for Large Ensemble, on the Tapestry/Capri label. In his StepTempest review Richard B. Kamins remarks on “the brilliance of these pieces, the excellent arrangements, the intelligent solos, and the power of the ensemble.” Donald Elfman writes in The New York City Jazz Record, the album “weaves its way into finding the bridge between forms so brilliantly expressed by this stunning recording.” And in her 4-star review in DownBeat Magazine, Kira Grunenberg notes that “The Lullaby Project simultaneously is dense and accessible, and warrants replays to take in Salles’ cultural observations, compositional counterpoint and the emotional trajectories.”
The group features composer and conductor Felipe Salles; saxes/woodwinds Jonathan Ball, alto and soprano saxes, flute, piccolo; Mike Caudill, tenor and soprano saxes, flute, clarinet, electronic effects; Rick DiMuzio, tenor sax, clarinet (Kevin Sun will be performing the CD release dates); Tyler Burchfield, bari sax, bass clarinet, clarinet; trumpets/ flugelhorns Jeff Holmes; Don Clough; Yuta Yamaguchi; Eric Smith, electronic effects; Doug Olsen; trombones Clayton DeWalt; Randy Pingrey (George Murphy will be performing the CD release dates); Bulut Gülen; Angel Subero, bass trombone; pianist Nando Michelin; guitarist Kevin Grudecki; vibraphonist Ryan Fedak; bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa; and drummer/percussionist Bertram Lehmann.
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A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Felipe Salles has been an active musician in the US since 1995, working and recording with prominent jazz artists including Randy Brecker, David Liebman, Lionel Loueke, Jerry Bergonzi, Chico Pinheiro, Jovino Santos Neto, Oscar Stagnaro, Duduka Da Fonseca, Maucha Adnet, Tony Lujan, Luciana Souza, and Bob Moses. He has toured extensively in Europe, North and South America, India and Australia, as a sideman and as a leader of his own group.
Salles’ awards include a Guggenheim Foundation Composition Fellowship (2018), a NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant (2015), a French American Jazz Exchange Grant (2009), and a Chamber Music America New Works (2005) grant. His arrangements and compositions have been performed by some of the top groups in the world including The Metropole Orchestra, UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, and the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra.
Salles has released seven critically acclaimed recordings as a leader, making DownBeat Magazine best albums of the year list in 2013, 2014, 2017 and again in 2019. He currently leads both The Felipe Salles Group and The Felipe Salles’ Interconnections Ensemble, and works as a member of the New World Jazz Composers Octet, Kyle Saulnier’s Awakening Orchestra, Alex Alvear’s Mango Blue and Gonzalo Grau’s (Grammy Nominated) La Clave Secreta.