Prof. Sarah Aponte would like to thank Professor Paul Austerlitz for donating his 2008 compact disk to the Dominican Library at CUNY/DSI during his recent visit. Prof. Austerlitz, author of Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity (Temple University Press 1997) has conducted extensive research on Dominican music while incorporating it into his own jazz compositions.
Journey. Produced by Paul Austerlitz. St Paul, Minnesota, 2008. Spanish and English, 72 min.
This 14-track compact disk explores Afro-Dominican musical traditions through the versatile lens of jazz and improvisation. Professor Austerlitz, a jazz musician, author and ethnomusicologist, enlists a group of accomplished Dominican, African and American musicians and poets to create and re-arrange new, old and forgotten Dominican Palo and merengue music as well as traditional Yoruba compositions from Cuba and jazz standards from the United States (“Ornithology”).
The CD is divided into five thematic “chapters” that tell the story of a journey: The first chapter or introduction explores religious invocation rooted in the African tradition (“Bara Súwà Yo”). The second chapter entitled “Palo and Beyond” features four tracks that range from traditional Dominican Palo (“Underground Palo”) to beautiful and tender jazz melodies (“One Peace”); experimental drone musical jams (“Journey”) and a blend of Afro-Dominican music with jazz (“Thunder Flow”). Chapter three “Merengue and Bebop” presents three arrangements by Austerlitz (“Ornithology” , “Sisterhood is powerful” and “Santiago”) that demonstrate his ability to communicate in the universal idiom of sound by blending together unexpected colors and variations from different parts of the world. One of the highlights of this chapter is the light classical piano piece “Santiago”, a 1927 merengue written by Julio Alberto Hernandez . Austerlitz also incorporates text and the oral tradition into his forward-looking musical world. Further, central to his work is collaboration among musicians which allows him to develop what he calls “conversation”. Musical conversation is present in chapter four under the theme of “Poetry and Song” which is comprised of five distinctive tracks. One of the highlights is “East Broadway Merengue” featuring renowned poet Michael S. Harper reading “The Latin American Poem”. The journey ends with chapter five entitled “Out-Vocation” a shorter—and much calmer— version of the CD’s opening track.
Journey is an innovative musical work that serves as a companion to Austerlitz’s research on the intersection of Afro-Caribbean music and jazz. Featuring Barry Olsen, Angelina Tallaj, Bernie Minoso, Dave Zinno, Juan Valdez, Phoenix Rivera, Royal Hartigan, Wellington Valenzuela, Kwaku Kwaakye, José Duluc, Julio Figueroa, Michael S. Harper, Regie Gibson and Renee Cologne.
This recording is of interest to those conducting research on music theory, jazz composition, free jazz and improvisation, non-Western musical notation, African oral tradition, avant-garde music, Jazz music in Dominican Republic, Afro-Dominican and Cuban music, Yoruba music, African traditional music, drone music, trance music and musical collaboration projects between Caribbean, African and North American artists.
Amaury Rodríguez, Library Research Assistant