Vibraphonist and composer Joel Ross has released “DOXOLOGY (Hope),” the second single to be revealed from The Parable of the Poet, an expansive album-length suite composed by Ross which will be released April 15 on vinyl, CD, and digital formats.
Ross explores new territory with his 8-piece Parables band, bringing together young artists of sharply defined expression: Blue Note labelmate Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone, Maria Grand on tenor saxophone, Marquis Hill on trumpet, Kalia Vandever on trombone, Sean Mason on piano, Rick Rosato on bass, Craig Weinrib on drums, and special guest Gabrielle Garo on flute.
The bright tempo and hard-charging swing of “DOXOLOGY (Hope)” contrasts with the graceful and tender opening movement “PRAYER.” You can check the track out below.
Ross’ vision for the music is at once explicit and mysterious. He seeks to express themes present in parable tellings and retellings, while leaving each story’s particulars open to interpretation. Each title of the 7-movement suite references an emotional decision or experience for Ross.
But in the studio he focused on fresh interpretations, allowing his past experiences to exist without dictating the band’s present treatment of the music. “I told them, ‘This is what the music is and this is how I want you to approach it — let everything we play be inspired by the melody.’ Not much else was decided,” says Ross, who enjoys “blurring the lines between melody and improvisation,” in part, as a way to facilitate communication and meaningful musical discourse.
Obscuring divisions between scripted and spontaneous is more than a romantic notion. For Ross, it’s truthful and intrinsic. Each composition he explores on The Parable of the Poet represents a near intact improvisation, some dating back to 2017, all of which emerged during creative sessions with his friend and colleague, saxophonist Sergio Tabanico.
“We would record it, then I would go back and flesh out the composition,” he says. “I tried my best not to change any harmonic information or add too much more than what was already there. I just tried to organize the information in a manner that would yield sensible improvised group interaction, while giving enough direction.”
The Parable of the Poet includes the following tracks:
“THE IMPETUS (To Be And Do Better)”