The tender musical heart of this enchanted take on The Man Who Fell to Earth belongs to composer Edward Shearmur, who turns in a largely synthesized score where spare, delicate piano melodies often recall Thomas Newman's deft sense of space and dynamics. While the general musical ethos seems a throwback to the mid-'80s heyday of pioneering electronic scores by Vangelis and Tangerine Dream, contemporary technical advances have allowed Shearmur to impart an ethereal and distinctly organic aural patina to these cues. Though informed by his atmospheric session work with Pink Floyd (The Division Bell), Shearmur's K-PAX score stands apart: quiet, mystically introspective music that seems as uncomplicated–and yet innately profound–as an autumn breeze.
If your Latin jazz collection centers mainly around styles from Cuba and Brazil, pianist Edward Simon would like you to consider expanding your library to include musical influences from a culturally diverse land geographically situated between those two countries – namely Venezuela, where he was born and lived until the age of 12. Simon is an acclaimed post-bop and modern creative jazz pianist in his adopted country of the United States, and while Latin American elements have certainly seasoned his recorded output to date, this 2014 Sunnyside release finds him focusing more intently than ever on the nexus between creative jazz and the folk music of his home country. The album's title is derived from "Venezuelan Suite," whose four parts fill over 28 minutes of the disc's concise 38-minute duration. Simon composed the suite for his Ensemble Venezuela, and the ten-member version of the group heard here – including musicians from the U.S., Venezuela, and Colombia – is wonderfully vibrant, ably fulfilling the pianist's creative intent. Chamber Music America commissioned Simon to write this work, and he rose to the challenge with music that is suitably rich with timbral and textural variety.