Streetcar Journey now available on CDBaby

Pianist Chie Sato Roden & chamber jazz ensemble Fire in July announce the release of their CD “Streetcar Journey,” featuring the music of beloved American film composer Alex North (1910-1991) and his magnificent, jazz-inflected score to the 1951 classic “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The CD, released April 15, 2011 on the Married Fox Label and available on CDBaby, features Chie Sato Roden, piano, and Fire in July: (Jody Redhage cello, voice, compositions, arrangements; Alan Ferber trombone, compositions; Ken Thomson clarinet, bass clarinet; Tom Beckham vibraphone; Fred Kennedy drums & percussion). Roden and Fire in July aim to tour their multimedia performance supporting the album throughout the US in 2011-12.

Chie Sato Roden, a passionate proponent of new American and Japanese solo piano repertoire, was investigating potential new pieces to program when she happened upon a 30 minute suite of sequences from Alex North’s “Streetcar” film score, arranged for solo piano by North himself. Roden fell in love with the suite of nine sequences—this was moody and evocative music, in turn languid and gritty, and remarkable as the first major film music to pull heavily on the jazz sounds of the south. Roden formulated a vision to expand the 30-minute solo suite to an evening-length performance of varied textures and instrumental colors, by having arrangements of the solo piano sequences made for chamber ensemble, as well as commissioning original compositions inspired by North’s film score and Tennessee Williams’ play as interludes between the North movements. Roden, and composers Alan Ferber and Jody Redhage have worked together to collaboratively create the concert-length project Streetcar Journey, performed live as a multi-media event with projected still images from the classic movie starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. Evoking in turn lazy southern afternoons and languid romance, versus the grit, intensity, and struggle of urban and industrial life in the mid-twentieth century deep south, Streetcar Journey celebrates the genius of one of America’s most beloved playwrights and one of America’s most beloved film score composers, re-imagined through the lens of 21st century chamber jazz performance.

Roden, who “pushes contemporary music beyond the confines of a restricted genre” (Japanese music critic, Yuji Numata), received the Ibla Contemporary Performance Award in 1998 and she now serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Ibla Foundation. She has issued two CDs, featuring the works of contemporary Japanese and American composers, under the ALM label in Japan.

Called an “adventurous cello songstress” by Time Out NY, and now a member of Grammy nominated Esperanza Spalding’s band, Jody Redhage (cellist, composer, and vocalist) has a passion for setting 20th and 21st century American poetry into art song, and she principally composes for her ensemble Fire in July.  Redhage’s compositions meld the detail and finesse of chamber music with the energy and drive of jazz improvisation and more popular genres. With tinges of Medieval chanson and hints of Weill, Redhage creates a captivating blend of genres that comes across as her unique voice.

Known internationally as a jazz trombonist and composer, Alan Ferber is a member of the Asphalt Orchestra and leads four of his own ensembles: the Nonet, Nonet with Strings, his Big Band, and a Quartet. His new recording, Chamber Songs, received four stars in Downbeat and was included in their “Best of 2010” list. Alan has recorded and toured with a vast array of artists including Charlie Hunter, Don Byron, Kenny Wheeler, Sufjan Stevens, and Toshiko Akiyoshi, and is on faculty at the Peabody Conservatory and Montclair State University.