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Flutist And Composer Alex Hamburger Releases Debut Record AND SHE SPOKE

This highly orchestrated assortment is a thoughtful sequence of trailblazing narratives from Geri Allen, Maya Angelou, Mary Lou Williams, Joni Mitchell and more.

Flutist And Composer Alex Hamburger Releases Debut Record AND SHE SPOKE

Flutist-composer and singer Alex Hamburger's latest album And She Spoke threads generations of powerful female voices on the DC-based musicians's debut release. The impressive record is a collection of women's stories - from poets and activists to composers and songwriters - offering original music and fresh interpretations of enduring works. This highly orchestrated assortment is a thoughtful sequence of trailblazing narratives from figures such as  influential jazz musicians Geri Allen and Mary Lou Williams to Maya Angelou and Joni Mitchell. Notably, the artist's own grandmother, poet and activist Ana Maria R. Codas, even gets a nod. 

Hamburger says while conceptualizing And She Spoke,she felt as though she was "standing on the shoulders of giants," crediting her musical journey to the women, specifically Black women, who came before her. "These women made it so women like me could have a voice," Hamburger says. "Women like Terri Lyne [Carrington] and Mary Lou Williams paved the way."

Recorded in a single day at JazzCampus Studio in Basel, Switzerland, And She Spoke features quartet members José Luiz Martins on piano and Rhodes, Chase Elodia on drums and Hamburger's mentor-turned-colleague Doug Weiss on bass. "Playing with Doug is always a lesson," she reflects. "He's just so solid and grounding yet so interactive - a part of this big swirling thing. What he brought to the music was really his experiences - who he is. Having someone from his generation who's been around and played around - even the way he talks about music - you can feel all that when you play with him."

Cool clarity from recording and mixing engineer Patrik Zosso serves the music's precision and tonal colors, and Hamburger's overall aesthetic for the recording. "Patrik heard the music and knew what it needed," she says. The two mixed together remotely, sending each other notes and tracks. "We didn't have that 'sitting down moment,' but he was really patient."

"A lot of how we view music, on a very visceral level, is through texture," says Hamburger. She and Martins match and reflect each other's melodic development against spontaneity, particularly on their stark, haunting arrangement of Mitchell's "Last Chance Lost" that leads into Beatles classic "Across the Universe," as well as on Allen's "Unconditional Love." Foundational buoyancy enhances the record's exploration of texture, nuanced and elemental. "Waking in the City," Hamburger's response to Angelou's "Awaking in New York," delivers a mood-casting drone that rapidly gains momentum. The artist's channel-driving, reflexive energy on "Burning the Letters," the flutist-composer's tribute to Sylvia Plath, and serve a strong, lyrical statement on Hamburger's arrangement of Williams' "What's Your Story Morning Glory."

"People outside of certain circles maybe don't know as much about who Geri was and what she's done for the music," says Hamburger. "I just love the way she wrote. I love the way she played and the way she conceptualized music. I had to include her in this project. She's one of those women who broke the boundary and said, 'f this. I'm gonna play. Get out of my way.'"

Rich transitions abound throughout "It Comes Unadorned," Hamburger's arrangement of Toni Morrison's vivid verse. But the artist-composer's most personal gesture memorializes the revolutionary life of her grandmother who fought for academic integrity under the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay. "I was blown away by her poems and stories," says Hamburger, "by this art that I was connected to and how amazing it was and how much it resonated with me. She was the starting point [for this project]."

Through Hamburger's skilled arrangements and creative interpretations of existing literary works, And She Spoke tells a series of stories that share an arc of resistance, grace and grit. "It's been a journey for sure," she says. "That day in the studio was everything I had worked on for so long. And it's a dream come true."

Hamburger's daring debut album is available on all platforms, including Bandcamp. Get it here


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