Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Sam Newsome & Lucian Ban: The Romanian-American Jazz Suite

This unique collaboration between American soprano sax player Sam Newsome and Romanian pianist Lucian Ban, both players on the New York jazz scene for several years, offers further evidence that jazz is indeed a universal language in the 21st century. Drawing on traditional Romanian folk melodies, Newsome and Ban cleverly reconfigure age-old material with their cross-cultural crew of Americans Alex Harding on baritone sax and Willard Dyson on drums, and Romanians Sorin Romanescu on guitar and Arthur Balogh on bass. They debuted “The Romanian-American Jazz Suite” in 2004 at the Bucharest International Jazz Festival and later got support from the Romanian Cultural Institute of New York to mount a week of performances at colleges and music venues throughout New York in 2007. This document of the suite, recorded at Systems Two in Brooklyn, is now available on the Norwegian label Jazzaway Records.

The buoyant opener, “Transilvanian Dance,” is a reinvention of a popular folkloric melody, fueled by Dyson’s funky backbeat and featuring some earthy call-and-response exchanges between Harding’s blistering bari and Newsome’s sinewy soprano sax lines. The relaxed and lovely “Carol” is Ban’s arrangement of a favorite Christmas carol he remembers from his youth in Romania. Harding switches to bass clarinet here and plays alongside Newsome’s soprano in a choral-like manner behind Romanescu’s lyrical guitar melody and Ban’s gentle piano accompaniment.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published