NEW YORK — Trumpeter/composer Michael Sarian is an artist who paints images of humanity through sound. On “New Aurora,” his fourth album as a leader, we find him on trumpet and flugelhorn as the sole melodic voice in this acoustic quartet, a clear departure from his previous releases which feature extensive four-horn arrangements, electronics and hard-hitting grooves (Sarian has released three albums as a bandleader with his septet, Michael Sarian & The Chabones, and also leads Michael Sarian & The Big Chabones, a 16-piece big band).
The album, released on September 4 on Ears&Eyes Records, features Sarian (trumpet, flugelhorn, compositions); Santiago Leibson (piano); Marty Kenney (bass) Matt Pavolka (bass) and Dayeon Seok (drums).
Listening closely through flesh, metal, breath and spit we can hear his family’s heritage, his musical heroes and his declaration as a jazz artist who has something compelling and beautiful to add to the conversation.
Born in Toronto and raised in Buenos Aires from the age of 1, Sarian has been calling New York City home for the past eight years. “New Aurora” has been in gestation since Sarian’s first release in 2014, and the album comes to us as a result of engineer/producer Luis Bacque’s downright insistence that the trumpeter venture into a freer, more acoustic setting that would feature his own playing, particularly on the flugelhorn, at the forefront of the ensemble’s sound (Sarian plays flugelhorn on all tracks save the first).
Inspired by the music of trumpet greats Kenny Wheeler, Tomasz Stanko, Enrico Rava, and legendary Armenian/American drummer Paul Motian, Sarian ventured into Bacque’s studio to test the waters of this new musical direction. After an afternoon spent at the New Jersey recording studio with Santiago Leibson (piano), Matt Pavolka (bass) and Dayeon Seok (drums), the session yielded the first two tracks of what would become “New Aurora.”
Sarian began writing the first of the compositions, This Is Only The Beginning, in a hotel room in Florida during the first days of 2019, while reading Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore. The novel tells the story of a 30-something artist facing an early onset mid-life crisis, who, after a devastating separation, decides to quit his lucrative career as a portrait painter, retreat into the mountains and pursue a more fulfilling path of abstract self-expression, proclaiming “this is only the beginning.”