One night only at the Side Door Jazz Club, Old Lyme CT
The Planets (2017) is the latest commissioned piece by pianist and composer Manuel Valera. Commissioned by Chamber Music America/Doris Duke 2017 New Jazz Works program, the piece uses the solar system as inspiration and it’s harmonically and melodically based on Nicolas Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. Each part of the suite aims at an impressionistic characterization of the astronomical qualities of each planet. In addition, Greek mythology’s gods (and Roman counterparts) particular energy and connection to the planets were also an inspiration in the process. i.e. Mars: The God of War, Jupiter: The God of the Sky etc.
People have been looking at the planets and stars for millennia. The planets in many ways hold the secrets to the things that we here in earth are forever curious about. Such as the big bang theory and many other elements of our history. The mystery of what we know and don’t know about the planets is one of the inspirations for the piece and by using and developing the material from Slonimsky’s Thesaurus, Valera creates harmonic and melodic sequences that have as much in common with Arnold Schonberg as they do with John Coltrane’s compositions. Slonimsky’s book has been a source of influence for composers such as Coltrane, Allan Holdsworth and Frank Zappa. Valera has been working and developing the concepts from the Thesaurus from the past 15 years in New York and The Planets marks a new period in Valera’s deepening and never-ending studying and understanding of Slonimsky’s masterpiece.