Julian Gerstin Sextet surprises on “I Remember It Differently”

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Percussionist Julian Gerstin has a debut album out with his sextet. The album, “The One Who Makes You Happy,” explores different soundscapes and rhythms to highlight his 40 years experience as a musician. The album contains a variety of percussion instruments, from the tanbou bèlè to a donkey’s jawbone. Gerstin uses the various sounds to re-invent jazz. One exciting example from the album is “I Remember It Differently.”

About Julian Gerstin

Julian Gerstin’s 40 years of music experience extends beyond jazz. He has played with Richard Hell and the Voidoids, and numerous popular groups from around the globe. And that’s just one genre.

Outside of music, Gerstin is well-versed in anthropology. He has earned an MA and a Ph.D. in the subject and that training probably helps with his learning about other cultures and how music works in those societies.

Overall, “The One Who Makes You Happy” is Gerstin’s 12th recording. He has also completed commissioned recordings for other instruments and compositions in classical and theater.

It seems that Gerstin throws himself into the study of music and people wholeheartedly, and his enthusiasm for his work shows in the sound and arrangement on “I Remember It Differently.”

“I Remember It Differently” by Julian Gerstin Sextet

The opening notes are exotic and full-sounding. There is a reason for that. According to the percussionist’s website, “I Remember It Differently” is a “fast, Bulgarian kopanitsa in 11/8.”

Even for listeners who have no idea what a “Bulgarian kopanitsa” is, the sound and feel of the swift rhythms of various sorts of hand-played percussion is unmistakable. The rhythm that the drums produce is replicated by other instruments that slowly add themselves in, or play their own motifs (like the piano) as the drums and horns grow louder. The feeling is of spinning dancers. Gerstin has noted on his website that he “likes music that makes me think…and music that makes me sweat.”

Anyone attempting to dance to the unusual and fast rhythms of “I Remember It Differently” is likely to sweat. That spinning dancers feeling reaches a climax just before the end of the song. Audiences can imagine a group of people taking this song in, dancing, and finally, half falling into seats as the song concludes, and those final horn notes, concise as they are, signal the song’s end. It is a wild ride into the ways that jazz works, and the ways in which world music elements can emphasize jazz traditions.

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