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June 2008

Andrew Sterman
The Path to Peace
Orange Mountain

The list of Andrew Sterman’s past and present musical employers could arguably stand as the most diverse of any tenor saxophonist, as it includes Frank Sinatra, minimalist composer Philip Glass and American Idol-winner Kelly Clarkson. At least two of these gigs presented him with insight that shaped his latest project, a music and dance collaboration with choreographer Sridhar Shanmugam inspired by the life and journey of Mahatma Gandhi. Its melodic approach often sounds basic and utilizes minimal harmonic changes, but these elements help him deliver a work of stunning complexity that does indeed capture the spirit of its subject.

Sterman refers to his approach on this album as “breath-pulse jazz,” combining his musical experience with lessons of Tai Chi and Chi Gong. It manifests itself in melodies built on long, middle-register tones that could either be an alto or tenor. While it feels simple, it effectively creates dramatic impact. Throughout the album, Sterman solos simply but often gets support from a counter melody by violinist Todd Reynolds. Percussionist Satoshi Takeishi plays in a way that adds to the sound rather than just keeping a pulse. With three chanted interludes by N.M. Sundar, The Path to Peace creates an aura that makes even the most cynical of us wonder if music really can heal and unite people.

Originally published in June 2008
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