Martin Bejerano received a Chamber Music America commission to compose a New Jazz Work in the summer of 2010. He had proposed a long-form composition that would show how — in the tradition of Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Oscar Peterson — Bejerano could put forth an energetic sound for his own trio, without just playing fast and loud. Melody, harmony and rhythm would move at different speeds and intensities.
Out of the 121 composers who applied, nine were chosen. This time on JazzSet, we're at Symphony Space for the Martin Bejerano Trio, as it performs his Potential Energy Suite. From a spinning figure unspooling and recoiling through a slow-floating movement with subtle changes at different depths, through fast, forward-rushing improvised lines and rhythms, Bejerano organized the suite in three movements: "Potential," "Transformation," "Kinetic." It's like a sonata that grooves.
Bejerano wrote for his excellent, close-knit Miami-New York trio with Edward Perez (bass) and Ludwig Afonso (drums). A graduate of Florida State, Bejerano is on the faculty at Frost School of Music within the University of Miami. He's also a charter member of Roy Haynes' Fountain of Youth Band, and we open and close with that group from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Martin Bejerano has said that working with Haynes for almost a decade is a fantastic experience, and nothing will ever top it. The piano-drummer hookup is a potent subject for Bejerano. He told JazzSet that he thinks it was especially important historically, right after bebop — in the early Miles Davis groups with Wynton Kelly and Philly Joe Jones, for example. And he wants more of it today:
The connection between drums and piano was a huge thing. It's something I don't get so much anymore. When I'm playing with other drummers, I'm listening to every little thing the drummer does. I'm trying to guess what he's going to play next, and trying to hook up or play the same rhythms or play off his rhythms, basically have a dialog. That, to me, is the entirely fun thing about playing jazz and playing in a rhythm section.
Now, how you do that is tricky [b]ecause it's a subtle and intricate thing, your sense of rhythm and sense of time. The way people subdivide rhythm or think about rhythm or the time feel, some people play a little back, some people play on the edge, some people land right in the middle, some people push and pull at times. Roy is the most famous one ever for doing that, for having a fluid sense of time. It's not about being a metronome for Roy. It's about [letting] the time and rhythm breathe.
Potential Energy Suite is made possible with support from Chamber Music America's New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development Program, funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Surround Sound mixes by Duke Markos.