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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Noah Baerman

Photo courtesy of the artist

This Thursday, March 13th, we invite you to join composer/pianist Noah Baerman and the Jazz Samaritan Alliance in celebration of Baerman’s new album Ripples (Lemel Music Productions). While Thursday’s bill certainly calls for festivity, it also encourages a time for reflection. For Baerman, music is a vehicle for societal advancement:

“I feel a responsibility to use my music in service of the issues that matter to me, while those issues add an important layer of substance to the music itself. At this point I scarcely know how to separate my art from my commitment to love, understanding and healing.”

On a quest to make “message music”, Noah’s struggles with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), and his experiences as a foster parent have helped crystallize his approach to the art form.

Based out of Connecticut, Baerman grew his musical legs under the mentorship of Kenny Barron at Rutgers University and, with the release of Ripples, has now produced nine albums as a bandleader. Featuring jazz legends Ron Carter and Ben Riley, Baerman’s 2003 release Patch Kit was inspired by his struggles with EDS, an incurable connective tissue disorder that almost caused him to give up the piano, and helped raise awareness and funds for the disorder. Awarded a “New Works” grant from Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation in 2008, Noah produced “Know Thyself,” an epic 65 minute suite for septet that was premiered at both Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and here at The Jazz Gallery. A jack of many trades, Baerman has also gained significant recognition as an educator for his work as the Director of the Wesleyan University Jazz Ensemble and the nine instructional books that he authored through the Alfred Publishing Company. You will also notice his work as the Artistic Director of Resonant Motion, Inc. (RMI), an organization founded by Baerman in 2012 to explore and deepen connections between music and social causes. Also in the realm of activism is Baerman’s group, the Jazz Samaritan Alliance, which is a collective of accomplished artists working to make socially conscious music.

As the first album released in conjunction with RMI,  Ripples pays homage to Noah’s late aunt Margie Pozefsky for her philanthropy, activism, and the “ripple” effect that she had on others. As Baerman points out:

“The songs presented here reflect this spirit of striving for a better, kinder world and the need to use whatever we do, however humble it may seem, to create these positive ripples.”

The record features performances by the Jazz Samaritan Alliance, Noah’s trio of 10 years, and special guests including Linda Oh and Kenny Barron. A full overview can be found here.

In this clip, Baerman expounds on the new album:

Be sure also to check out these excerpts from the record. Finally, amidst all of his activism, Noah finds room for humor. Check out this press video touting the release of “Know Thyself” in 2010:

Noah Baerman and the Jazz Samaritan Alliance perform at The Jazz Gallery this Thursday, March 13th, 2014. This performance features Noah Baerman on piano, Wayne Escoffery on tenor saxophone, Kris Allen on alto saxophone, Chris Dingman on vibraphone, Henry Lugo on bass, and Johnathan Blake on drums. Sets are at 9 and 11 p.m. The first set is $15 general admission and $10 for members; the second Set is $10 general admission and $5 for members. Purchase tickets here.