Diane Moser creates nature-inspired jazz on “Birdsongs”

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Pianist Diane Moser and her ensemble have put together a series of recordings that have been a decade in the making. While at an artist’s residency, the musician noticed that the birds would respond to her music. The result is a new album, “Birdsongs.” Most of the songs are new and original, while a few are bird-inspired cover songs. Some of the songs’ titles reflect specific bird species that inspired them. With a total running time of more than an hour, “Birdsongs” by Diane Moser is an invitation away from the modern world and its unhealthy sounds. “Birdsongs” will be available March 1, 2018.

About Diane Moser and Composers Big Band

Diane Moser’s career as a pianist is more than two decades long. Based in the New York metropolitan area, Moser and Composers Big Band (CBB), have developed a cult following. The group performs songs written by its members and by guest artists. Among those guest artists are Jane Ira Bloom (known recently for her 2017 based on the works of poet Emily Dickinson), Howard Johnson, Mark Dresser and others.

With Composers Big Band, Moser forms a trio. The group includes Anton Denner on flute and piccolo and Ken Filiano on bass. But Moser’s musical interaction with birds started long before her years as a professional musician. She wrote her first bird-related song at the age of five. However, it was in 2008 at the MacDowell Colony residency that Moser noticed the birds really responding to the music she made. Moser states: “Every day I improvised and recorded with the birds outside my studio in the woods. What I experienced was a give and take with the birds: They would sing, I would play, they would answer me and so on.”

Moser recorded the sessions with the winged contributors, edited them and arranged the songs for acoustic and electronic instruments and for big band and solo piano. Moser and CBB have been playing the various tracks on “Birdsongs” at their gigs around New York City. Ultimately, Moser states that she wants the songs “to have a healing effect on those who listen.” She continues, “Our world is overrun with all kinds of sounds that are not always good for your health…I wanted this recording to be a respite from that so that those who listen can feel relieved from their daily stress and feel refreshed and positive.”

“If You’ll Call Me, Then I’ll Call You” by Diane Moser

The song begins with a playful exchange between woodwind and piano. Based on the song of the American Robin, the lilting lines of the track continue in a back and forth dynamic until almost two minutes in, when the bass underscores the now-frantic piano and woodwind parts. To many listeners, it will call to mind the way some bird species bob from branch to branch. All the while, the birds’ actual songs are replicated with the woodwind, and somehow, the sound of flapping wings appears to have been re-created, too.

The song is fun, with listeners trying to match instrument sounds to bird behavior and songs. But the arrangement of sounds never allows audiences to forget that they are, in fact, listening to jazz.

“When Birds Dream” by Diane Moser

Pretty is the word that comes to mind. The gentle pulses in the piano’s lyricism remind listeners of the way birds take flight and propel themselves ever higher. The piano is showcased here, so the overall sound is quiet, gentle. Not to be too literal, but it does help to regard the song’s title as its theme. The track’s hushed atmosphere invites audiences to consider what birds dream about. One possible answer is they dream of flying with abandon or stopping to rest and being undisturbed either way.

Moser and Composers Big Band remind audiences to marvel at nature and enjoy the ways in which jazz can be used to express a variety of aspects of the human experience.

 

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