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Ben Lamar Gay|Open Arms to Open Us

Open Arms to Open Us

Ben Lamar Gay

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Ben LaMar Gay's primary instrument is the cornet and hails from Chicago's historically vibrant scene of daring musical improvisers. These two facts alone have put him in the same conversation as several other "new American jazz saviors" who are blazing trails in the genre. And while Gay is certainly doing that, the depth, breadth, and reach of his work has pushed him far beyond any traditional notions of jazz or what its practitioners can accomplish. Gay is steeped in the possibilities of improvisation and instrumental interplay, but also interested in storytelling via his music, giving his works a philosophical and compositional solidity that's more akin to contemporary classical music than anything else. Heck, he plays cornet on fewer than half of the tracks here, opting instead for percussion instruments, synthesizers, and even a zither. With Open Arms to Open Us, Gay is even more daring in his approach and uncompromising in his vision than on his previous releases, but also profoundly more focused from a thematic and compositional aspect; it is an ambitious album, by an ambitious artist at the peak of their powers and it absolutely should be his breakout moment.

Opener "Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks On You," is a richly melodic slice of lyrically beautiful cosmic funk featuring vocals by Ohmme's Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham and dizzying drumwork by drummer Tommaso Moretti. It's followed by "Hood Rich Happy," a loping, groove-oriented interlude that's half distortion, half smooth jazz, and then the griot-esque "Bang Melodically Bang." The relatively straightforward nature of this opening salvo soon unfolds into a much more expansive universe of rhythm-forward exploration starting with "Aunt Lola and the Quail," which evokes a pastoral trance that's part cultural imprint, part universal truth. Whether the sounds of rope skipping, looping drum programs, or jazz percussion, rhythm drives everything forward, acting as a cultural throughline from Gay’s family roots into the present and on toward the future. "Lean Back. Try Igbo" and "S'Phsticated Lady (featuring Gira Dahnee and Angel Bat Dawid)," both under two minutes, are astonishingly fully formed ideas built upon innovative rhythms; they are integral to the work, even if they don't feel like "proper" songs. "In Tongues and In Droves" is a dense, immersive clash between psychedelic loops and spiritual improvisation. Even on a cut like the lovely and intense "Nyuzura," where rhythm isn't the focal point, Gay unmoors the piece from place and time by coupling a singer of African origin (Rwandan vocalist Dorothée Munyaneza) with his own zither-playing and a bass synth. So yes, Gay moves through many different modalities and atmospheres throughout the album, but it is still remarkably consistent and deeply considered, showing that he's gone fully beyond being even jazz-adjacent and into a new realm of emotionally rich musical storytelling built upon thoughtful composition and inventive improvisation. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

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Open Arms to Open Us

Ben Lamar Gay

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1
Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You (feat. Ohmme)
00:03:27

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Tommaso Moretti, Drums, Xylophone - Ohmme, FeaturedArtist - Macie Stewart, Vocals - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Organ, Lead Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist, Balafon Percussion - Sima Cunningham, Vocals

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

2
Hood Rich Happy
00:01:26

BOB JAMES, Writer - Dave Cooley, Masterer - Tommaso Moretti, Drums - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, Samples, MainArtist, Temple Blocks Percussion

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

3
Bang Melodically Bang
00:03:09

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Mina, Voices - Angela, Voices - Tommaso Moretti, Drums - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Leia, Voices - Matthew Davis, Tuba - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, Programming, MainArtist

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

4
Aunt Lola and the Quail
00:04:15

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Tommaso Moretti, Drums - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Tomeka Reid, Cello, Vocals - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Cornet, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - Rob Frye, Flute - Johanna Brock, Viola, Violin

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

5
Mestre Candeia's Denim Hat
00:01:53

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Tommaso Moretti, Drums - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Matthew Davis, Tuba - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

6
Oh Great Be The Lake
00:03:00

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Organ, Percussion, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - Ayanna Woods, Vocals - Rob Frye, Flute

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

7
I Be Loving Me Some Of You
00:02:07

Francesca, Choir Vocals - HannaH, Choir Vocals - Adam, Choir Vocals - Dave Cooley, Masterer - Angela, Choir Vocals - Benjamin, Choir Vocals - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Cornet, Percussion, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - xoco, Choir Vocals - Rob Frye, Percussion - Adam Zanolini, Oboe, Soprano Saxophone

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

8
Nyuzura (feat. Dorothée Munyaneza)
00:03:26

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Tommaso Moretti, Drums - Dorothee Munyaneza, FeaturedArtist - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Writer, Zither, Drum Programming, MainArtist, Bass Synthesizer

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

9
Slightly Before The Dawn
00:03:25

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Tommaso Moretti, Percussion - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Cornet, Triangle, Writer, MainArtist - Ayanna Woods, Electric Bass - Rob Frye, Flute - Adam Zanolini, Soprano Saxophone

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

10
Lean Back.Try Igbo (feat. Onye Ozuzu)
00:01:19

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Tommaso Moretti, Drums - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Organ, Writer, Background Vocals, Synthesizer, MainArtist - Ayanna Woods, Background Vocals - Onye Ozuzu, FeaturedArtist, Spoken Voice Vocals

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

11
Dress Me In New Love
00:01:53

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Tommaso Moretti, Drums - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Matthew Davis, Tuba - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, Pandeiro, MainArtist, Beatbox Vocals

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

12
Touch. Don’t Scroll (feat. Ayanna Woods)
00:04:25

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Tommaso Moretti, Drums - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Matthew Davis, Trombone, Tuba - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Cornet, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - Ayanna Woods, Electric Bass, FeaturedArtist

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

13
I Once Carried A Blossom (feat. A.Martinez)
00:00:59

Dave Cooley, Masterer - A.Martinez, FeaturedArtist, Spoken Voice Vocals - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Cornet, Writer, MainArtist - Alyssa Hyde Martinez, Writer

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

14
In Tongues And In Droves (feat. Tomeka Reid)
00:05:20

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Tomeka Reid, FeaturedArtist, Featured Cello - Matthew Davis, Trombone, Tuba - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Cornet, Percussion, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - Rob Frye, Flute

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

15
S’Phisticated Lady (feat. Gira Dahnee and Angel Bat Dawid)
00:01:35

Traditional, Writer - Dave Cooley, Masterer - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Bass Drums, Pandeiro, MainArtist - Angel Bat Dawid, FeaturedArtist - Gira Dahnee, FeaturedArtist

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

16
We Gon Win
00:04:18

Dave Cooley, Masterer - Mina, Choir Vocals - Angela, Choir Vocals - Benjamin, Choir Vocals - Tommaso Moretti, Drums - Alyssa, Choir Vocals - Dave Vettraino, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Leia, Choir Vocals - Matthew Davis, Trombone - Ben Lamar Gay, Producer, Cornet, Writer, Programming, MainArtist, Bass Synthesizer - xoco, Choir Vocals - Rob Frye, Flute

© 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America. ℗ 2021 International Anthem Recording Co., under license to Nonesuch Records Inc. for North & South America.

Album Description

Ben LaMar Gay's primary instrument is the cornet and hails from Chicago's historically vibrant scene of daring musical improvisers. These two facts alone have put him in the same conversation as several other "new American jazz saviors" who are blazing trails in the genre. And while Gay is certainly doing that, the depth, breadth, and reach of his work has pushed him far beyond any traditional notions of jazz or what its practitioners can accomplish. Gay is steeped in the possibilities of improvisation and instrumental interplay, but also interested in storytelling via his music, giving his works a philosophical and compositional solidity that's more akin to contemporary classical music than anything else. Heck, he plays cornet on fewer than half of the tracks here, opting instead for percussion instruments, synthesizers, and even a zither. With Open Arms to Open Us, Gay is even more daring in his approach and uncompromising in his vision than on his previous releases, but also profoundly more focused from a thematic and compositional aspect; it is an ambitious album, by an ambitious artist at the peak of their powers and it absolutely should be his breakout moment.

Opener "Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks On You," is a richly melodic slice of lyrically beautiful cosmic funk featuring vocals by Ohmme's Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham and dizzying drumwork by drummer Tommaso Moretti. It's followed by "Hood Rich Happy," a loping, groove-oriented interlude that's half distortion, half smooth jazz, and then the griot-esque "Bang Melodically Bang." The relatively straightforward nature of this opening salvo soon unfolds into a much more expansive universe of rhythm-forward exploration starting with "Aunt Lola and the Quail," which evokes a pastoral trance that's part cultural imprint, part universal truth. Whether the sounds of rope skipping, looping drum programs, or jazz percussion, rhythm drives everything forward, acting as a cultural throughline from Gay’s family roots into the present and on toward the future. "Lean Back. Try Igbo" and "S'Phsticated Lady (featuring Gira Dahnee and Angel Bat Dawid)," both under two minutes, are astonishingly fully formed ideas built upon innovative rhythms; they are integral to the work, even if they don't feel like "proper" songs. "In Tongues and In Droves" is a dense, immersive clash between psychedelic loops and spiritual improvisation. Even on a cut like the lovely and intense "Nyuzura," where rhythm isn't the focal point, Gay unmoors the piece from place and time by coupling a singer of African origin (Rwandan vocalist Dorothée Munyaneza) with his own zither-playing and a bass synth. So yes, Gay moves through many different modalities and atmospheres throughout the album, but it is still remarkably consistent and deeply considered, showing that he's gone fully beyond being even jazz-adjacent and into a new realm of emotionally rich musical storytelling built upon thoughtful composition and inventive improvisation. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

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