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Quinsin Nachoff Showcases Broad Sonic Palette On Fearlessly Innovative New Recording 'Pivotal Arc'

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Saxophonist and composer Quinsin Nachoff's career to date has delivered a boundary-crossing body of work that's consistently unpredictable, fearlessly innovative, breathtakingly accomplished, and full of creative passion, constantly increasing its scope to encompass ever greater horizons.

His new album Pivotal Arc presents his most ambitious project yet: bringing together virtuoso violin soloist Nathalie Bonin with a jazz-inflected unit comprising two established giants of the NY scene, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Satoshi Takeishi, and the stunning young vibraphone player Michael Davidson, and adding a wind and string ensemble conducted by JC Sanford for a concerto that boldly mixes written and improvised sections.

A contemporary string quartet performed by the renowned Molinari String Quartet and the extended title piece round out the album. The result is three diverse long-form works that flow naturally together, demonstrating Nachoff's equally heartfelt facility with the free-flowing language of jazz improvisation, the depth and rigor of classical composition and the direct melodicism of folk forms.

The three-part violin concerto is built around Nachoff's long-standing creative partnership with Nathalie Bonin and showcases her extraordinary range and versatility. "Nathalie's drive is very intense, her musical interests are really diverse, and she dives into whatever challenge and works at it until she masters it!"

The first movement is an imaginary deconstructed and reconstructed Tango that sets the tone, intensity and sound palette for the entire work. After the improvised violin solo, the orchestra ferociously returns with nearly a concerto for orchestra section that gradually winds down to a dream-like cadenza, setting up the second movement. "I love Astor Piazolla and I'd heard Nathalie improvise brilliantly in that setting - Stravinsky also looms large and Weill and Ligeti were very inspiring as well, but the tango was the main focus, twisted and deconstructed in different ways."

The second movement is a haunting ballad that sweeps through several tonal landscapes "Where Berg meets Ellington!"

A gorgeous improvised violin solo leads into both a written and improvised cadenza that connects to the final movement. It is Balkan-infused and showcases the violinist's virtuosic range and rhythmic strength.

The String Quartet represents some of Nachoff's most intricate writing to date, allowing him to explore his deep attachment to the tradition and his engagement with contemporary iterations. "I like to keep up with what's happening now in quartet writing and this gave me the opportunity to explore some of those ideas - pitch axis, using quarter tones, etc., but still keeping a jazz influence because that's a large part of my background."

Each of the four movements is a miniature concerto for each member of the quartet. The first movement features Violin II, the probing second movement showcases the Viola, the vacillating third movement is for the Cello and the intense final movement is for Violin I. "It felt like it was improvised, it had this really alive, vibrant feeling to it that is a testament to the Molinari's exceptional work as an ensemble."

The final, titular piece, 'Pivotal Arc' is Nachoff's extended reflection on the critical position we currently find ourselves regarding climate change. It features opening and closing solos from bassist Mark Helias, inspired contributions throughout from Michael Davidson, a call and response solo section between the orchestra and drummer Satoshi Takeishi and an improvisation section moving through a variety of moods for Nachoff's tenor saxophone. "Mark is so accomplished and so individual, always able to add an element of surprise in any setting! Satoshi is similarly unique: he adds so much energy and always sees the big picture. Michael was phenomenal on both the improvisations and the written sections and JC Sanford was essential to realize the project and get the blend right."

With a sonic palette that ranges across the spectrum from Strayhorn and Mancini to Bartok and Berg, this is a stunningly original set of pieces that will cement Nachoff's reputation as a major cross-genre musical force.

NYC-based saxophonist and composer Quinsin Nachoff has earned a reputation making "pure, bracing, thought-provoking music" that is "cliché-and convention-free" (Ottawa Citizen). His music moves fluidly between jazz and classical worlds and is soul stirring yet intricately cerebral. His passions reach into both arts and sciences, with physics or astronomy concepts sparking inspiration for exhilarating compositions.

A state of constant unpredictability is vividly captured in Nachoff's group Flux, which features the talents of saxophonist David Binney, keyboardist Matt Mitchell, and drummers Kenny Wollesen and Nate Wood. The band has earned critical acclaim during performances throughout Canada and the US. Their JUNO-nominated second release, Path of Totality, thrives in the spaces between genres, styles and inspirations, and garnered numerous yearend best-of lists including DownBeat's The Year's Top Rated Albums (4.5 stars): "Path of Totality is a stunning, deep dive of an album, the sort of music in which one could spend hours submersed."

Nachoff was already blurring the lines between composition and improvisation on his 2006 debut, Magic Numbers, which paired a jazz rhythm section with a string quartet. Since that time he has found success in both worlds. In November 2018 he premiered a Violin Concerto, his first String Quartet (commissioned by Quebec's Molinari String Quartet) and a large ensemble piece, Pivotal Arc, in Montreal. These are the latest additions to a growing catalogue of compositions for a variety of diverse ensembles. At the 2017 Vancouver International Jazz Festival he premiered his Saxophone Concerto with the Turning Point Ensemble, while his piece Stars and Constellations: Scorpio was a commission from the Penderecki String Quartet that incorporated bassist Mark Helias and drummer Dan Weiss of Nachoff's Ethereal Trio.

Born in San Francisco, raised in Montreal, Nathalie is a multi-faceted musician now based in Los Angeles. She has been a featured violinist both on the local and international scenes, and recently premiered and recorded Quinsin Nachoff's Violin Concerto. Previously, she has been a guest soloist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, a member of the New York based Jazz quintet: Ted Nash and ODEON, soloist with the Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ), Concertmaster for the Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal for their West Canada Tour in 2007, and has played many years in the Orchestre Métropolitain and l'Opéra de Montréal.

Aside from her numerous contributions as violinist in contemporary, jazz, tango and world music ensembles, Nathalie has also performed or recorded with: Stevie Wonder, YES, Bran Van 3000, Moist, DeadMau5, Alan Parson, Chance The Rapper, Peter Cetera, Luciano Pavarotti, Charles Aznavour, Gino Vannelli, Salvatore Adamo, Gage, Henri Salvador, Nanette Workman, Cirque du Soleil and Cirque Eloize as well as recorded on numerous movie and television soundtracks. She is Concertmaster of La Voix (The Voice) in Montreal where she has performed on most prime-time network television variety shows as lead or feature violinist.

An award-winning composer, Nathalie premiered two of her works at Lincoln Center last September performed by Orchestra Moderne NYC under the direction of Amy Andersson as part of the "Women Warriors: The Voices of Change" concert. She has accumulated numerous credits for network television series and soundtracks and is a regular composer for Hallmark (Crownmedia) having scored Rome in Love, Forever in My Heart, Time For You To Come Home For Christmas, Matching Hearts, and the upcoming release Christmas in Vienna.


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