Darrell Grant—a nationally renowned pianist and composer, and Portland State University School of Music associate director—will host a concert and celebration for the release of his new album The Territory this Saturday, Nov. 14, 3:30 p.m. at First Unitarian Church.
The Territory is an extended jazz suite in nine movements that represents the interface of art and place: our home.
The conceptual territory exists in the sweet spot, welding classical chamber music and jazz together. The music is distinct in blending composition and improvisation to try to depict the Oregon experience. The movements also reflect local historical heritage and the diverse landscapes of the region.
“The album arose from a desire to explore the idea that our terroir—the sense of place and ethos that the land brings into being—might inspire and connect us, whether we are native or transplant,” Grant said. “The movements of the piece are inspired by topography, history and the human stories that took place on the land.”
Each movement gleans spirits of local history and weaves them into auditory and visual-inducing jams: the grit and bone of glaciers carving the Willamette Valley, a Nez Perce tribal chant, the lost tragedy of a band of Chinese gold miners and Portland’s first African-American–owned hotel. Each part contributes to a collective musical range.
“The piece arose from the thought that all these together might vibrate in a way we can sense, in our art, in our folklore and in our dreams,” Grant said.
The whole of the album immerses the listener in an eclectic soundscape, a deluge of supreme instrumentation. The album experience delivers avant-garde expressionism with fleeting threads of familiar, satisfying melodies.
Grant wanted to bring newfangled composition to the production table.
“Making the live recording at the prestigious Chamber Music Northwest festival was a thrill,” Grant said. “And of course being able to play my music with some of the most amazing musicians in jazz, who are also longtime friends and collaborators, in front of that full house was unforgettable. I think all that energy and good vibes also comes out on the recording.”
Grant credits the album’s production to the New Jazz Works Grant from Chamber Music America. Grant was provided a commission to compose and premiere the piece, along with a number of other career development opportunities.
He was excited to partner with the Oregon Historical Society and donate a portion of the proceeds from the concert and CD sales to further their important work.
Tickets to Saturday’s concert are $10, or $8 with student ID, and can be purchased at the door or online. If you can’t make it to the concert, The Territory can be heard through iTunes, Amazon.com, Google Play Store and other online distributors.