JAZZ CHILL : Emiliano Lasansky

Emiliano Lasansky’s melodies have the potential to simultaneously serve as vehicles to memories and past experiences, and to evoke optimistic anticipation for the future. Lasansky elaborates, “my work attempts to unify elements of the past and present in exciting and unexpected new ways. I also strive for my work to be accessible to a wide audience with hidden layers of subtlety for those that desire to take a closer look.” 

The title track, “The Optimist,” mirrors life, presenting the soloist with trials and tribulations challenges, and rewards, with sections of challenging chords, creating harmonic adversity for the soloist, followed by open sections where the soloist can improvise freely and celebrate. This composition also reflects a core part of Lasansky’s identity. “L.P.’s Tune” pays tribute to Lasansky’s father who passed away in 2020. It celebrates his life, his unwavering support of the young musician’s endeavors and pursuits, and the deep love of music he passed on to his son.

“Dependence” is a modern jazz gem that leaves you with the feeling one might have after spending time with a dear friend. It is about the positive aspects of the word, the essence of reliance, celebrating the diverse elements that shape our identities. This is reflected in the energetic solos that sparkle with the warmth of friendly banter and camaraderie amongst the musicians. In 2017 & 2018 Lasansky attended the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program, led by preeminent pianist, Jason Moran, who left a big impression on Lasansky, which led to “Follow The Thread.” Lasansky explains, “Jason said something to the effect of ‘get out there and do your thing. If you get lost, turn around and grab onto the thread of what music has come before you and then turn back around and follow that thread into the future.’ When I was writing music for this project, I knew I wanted to write something in a slow three and many of the things I was coming up with just fell short. Jason’s words kept rolling through my mind coupled with how an idea that one needs to be fearless and authentic to truly speak their mind. I ended up going back and checking out tons of recordings by my favorite artists and a picture started to come together for the song.” 

Other highlights on The Optimist include “Fountain Of Youth,” which began with a assignment from none other than Herbie Hancock himself, to compose music based on experiencing, and being inspired by your environment. “Young Corn” (featuring vocalist Genevieve Artadi) draws inspiration from a Grant Wood painting of the same title. “In 2018 I went to see the Grant Wood retrospective at the Whitney Museum in NYC. Wood is an artist who is from near where I grew up in Iowa and lived around the corner from where my father grew up. Many of his paintings depict the rolling hills and prairie scenes of my home state Iowa. I was inspired when I saw painted scenes from where I grew up and imagined what music might accompany some of those images. This inspired me to write ‘Young Corn.’ The song takes on the character of open, expansive prairies, drawing sonic influence from composers like Aaron Copland, Maria Schneider and Pat Metheny (two of whom are from areas near me in the Midwest). The lyrics tell the story of being sure- footed in one’s pursuit of happiness and are meant to evoke a sense of honesty and optimism,” explains Lasansky. 

With The Optimist we find ourselves under the spell of a fully-fledged, modern day composer making great strides, and frankly, hitting it over the wall on his first at-bat. We can enjoy his wonderful, emotive melodies, and his ensemble elevating each composition to works of art, which remind us of the greatness and love in all of us, the joyful and sorrowful times of our lives, and the importance of having excitement and optimism for our future.

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