2 Wolves in the Henhouse
3 The Mirror
6 The Garden
7 The Path
8 Solitary Journey
9 Dandelion Roots
10 Critical Mass
12 God’s Will
13 Back to the Garden
The “Know Thyself” suite began as a proposal for Chamber Music America’s New Works grant program. Through the good fortune of receiving this grant, I have had the opportunity to explore the development of themes over an extended piece, something to which I have been drawn in works ranging from Beethoven’s Fifth to Charles Mingus’s The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady to the Who’s Quadrophenia. There are eleven themes, each one with a meaning beyond notes and rhythms, and they evolve and interact over the course of thirteen movements. I have deliberately strived for emotional resonance and sincerity, rather than shielding myself with the protective barriers of abstraction implicit to instrumental jazz.
When I took on the project, I intended for it to be a fairly conceptual examination of the human search for self-knowledge. I have always valued introspection, and through the years I have observed the impact of looking inward (or not) on people around me. I draw inspiration from people who have the courage to honestly re-examine themselves throughout adulthood, and on the other end I have seen sad and damaging patterns perpetuated by those who turn away from their inner truth. What I did not anticipate was that in between drafting the grant proposal and composing the music, my own life would be turned upside down several times over. I found myself having to dig deep to manage the present moment, while also needing to deal with some unaddressed baggage from my own past.
As a result, this suite’s initial goal of examining the generalized notion of seeking to know oneself necessarily gave way to a highly personal exploration of my own quest. I say “necessarily” because, having taken on this task in life, any other approach to this music would have been disingenuous. Having six fabulous musical collaborators at my disposal has afforded me the opportunity to explore a variety of textures, grooves and harmonic landscapes. More resonantly for me, though, they have given voice to this wordless narrative that explores a journey through suffering, fear, determination, faith and, ultimately, transcendence and wholeness.
This album is dedicated to Wanda Maximilien (1946-2009), without whom the journey depicted here may well have ended about four movements in; I am eternally grateful to Maxe for entering the narrative when she did.
Produced and composed by Noah Baerman, published by Chedda Chowda Music, ASCAP
This composition was created with generous support from Chamber Music America’s New
Works: Creation and Presentation Program, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Recorded November 23, 2009 by Al Perrotta at Bennett Studios, Englewood, NJ.
Mixed and Mastered by Collin Tilton at Bar None Studio, Northford, CT.
Design/Illustration by Dave Kopperman