May 25, 2014
Ten years after nearly walking away from the piano due to his struggles with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), an incurable connective tissue disorder with which he was born, Noah Baerman is playing and composing with more authority than ever. These challenges and his experiences as a foster parent have deepened his already fierce commitment to "message music." The result is a new CD, Ripples, that allows him to explore more deeply his desire to merge the beauty of music with messages of hope, strength and love.
Ripples is the first release produced in conjunction with Resonant Motion, Inc. (RMI), a not-for-profit organization founded in 2012 by Baerman and some equally committed individuals. Viewing music as a healing force and artistic expression as a means to both expand awareness and promote action, RMI seeks to inspire, not preach; to uplift, not depress.
The music is presented by two distinct ensembles. The Jazz Samaritan Alliance, comprised of Baerman, vibraphonist Chris Dingman, saxophonists Jimmy Greene and Kris Allen, and drummer Johnathan Blake, was formed with similar goals as those of RMI. They perform on three pieces here joined by special guests Linda Oh on bass for two tracks, and Kenny Barron on piano for one tune.
Four other pieces feature Baerman’s trio of 10 years – with bassist Henry Lugo and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza – augmented by a chamber ensemble of cellist Dave Eggar, violinists Meg Okura and Zach Brock, Erica Von Kleist on flutes and Benjamin Fingland on clarinet. The end result is an album of varying textures and sounds, but all with a wonderful sense of spirituality, and what we can only call “soul”.
Podcast 428 is my conversation with Noah, as we discuss “socially conscious music”, why he remains keenly involved in jazz education, and the reactions he received to the new music on his just completed tour. Musical selections from Ripples augment our conversation, including “The Healer”, “Lester”, and “Ripple: Brotherhood.”