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Open Arms to Open Us

News & Reviews

  • Ben LaMar Gay has released “Oh Great Be the Lake," the second single from his upcoming new album Open Arms to Open Us, out November 19 on International Anthem / Nonesuch. The new track is a ballad penned by Gay to his memories of jumping off the rocks into Lake Michigan on Chicago’s Southside; you can watch the video by Chris Strong here. Supported by delicate, minimal flute accents by Rob Frye and wordless backing vocals by Ayanna Woods, Gay croons encouragingly, repeatedly: “Learn how to swim.” This song also birthed the album title, which is taken from the lyrics in the second verse.

  • Composer, singer, and instrumental polymath Ben LaMar Gay's new album, Open Arms to Open Us, is due November 19 on International Anthem / Nonesuch Records. Living up to NPR's claim that "there is no one universe for Ben LaMar Gay, he just sonic booms from one sound to another," he interweaves jazz, blues, ballads, R&B, raga, new music, nursery rhyme, Tropicália, two-step, hip-hop, and beyond in his most colorful and communicable work yet, an expression of his signature omni-genre, "Pan-Americana" brew. You can watch the video for the track "Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You," featuring OHMME, here.

  • About This Album

    Composer, singer, and instrumental polymath Ben LaMar Gay releases his new album, Open Arms to Open Us, November 19 on International Anthem / Nonesuch Records. The first offering from the Southside Chicago native’s newest project is a pulsing melodic bellow featuring OHMME singers Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, titled "Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You." According to Gay, the song is “inspired by the preparation one makes for another when it’s time for them to enter or exit an embrace, a memory or a life." You can watch the video for it here:

    Highlighted in the New York Times’s Fall 2021 preview, Open Arms to Open Us is a dispatch from “postmodern folklorist” Gay’s current place in space, filled with imaginative arrangements and his “wise and confiding baritone.”

    It was produced and recorded at International Anthem Studios in Chicago between March and June of 2021. Across sixteen tracks Gay fluently interweaves jazz, blues, ballads, R&B, raga, new music, nursery rhyme, tropicalia, two-step, hip-hop and beyond in a beaming expression of his signature omni-genre “Pan-Americana” brew. Alongside his own sizable toolkit of instruments (cornet, keyboards, synthesizers, flutes, percussions), Gay surrounds himself with steady bandmates (including Tommaso Moretti on drums, Matthew Davis on tuba, and Rob Frye on woodwinds), while also shining the spotlight on female artists from his cast of regular collaborators. Featured artists on the album include: OHMME singers Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, bassist/vocalist/arranger Ayanna Woods, multi-disciplinary Rwandan artist Dorothée Munyaneza, poet A.Martinez, cellist Tomeka Reid, and vocalists Onye Ozuzu, Gira Dahnee, and Angel Bat Dawid.

    Reflecting on the meaning of the music in a prologue he wrote for Open Arms to Open Us, Gay says the album’s title is “a suggestion of a body movement that is used in many spiritual practices and is also a gesture that represents a type of understanding that leads to touch or a hug.” He also says, “Open Arms to Open Us deals with rhythm as an inheritance of information – sort of like DNA or RNA. Coping with the present-day bombardment of data and recycled ideologies from sources essentially fed by the creed ‘Destroy Them. Own the Earth,’ often leaves me with only one thing to look forward to: Rhythm.”

    This latest project is the follow up to Gay’s 2018 critically-acclaimed, debut album Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun, which was a compilation of previously-unreleased material composed and produced by Gay over seven years. It was heralded by Pitchfork, NPR, and the Guardian, the last of which called it, “a record of endless depth and unpredictability.” But Gay’s work is not limited to album releases. He has composed for dance troupes (including the Ruth Page Civic Ballet) and architectural features (including a 2019 duet with the DuSable Bridge in downtown Chicago), and also has done extensive film score work (including the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival award-winning documentary The Good Fight). In 2019 he debuted ‘Hecky Naw! Angels!’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, using video art and choreography to explore the shapes and sounds of Chicago’s Black social dances.

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    "Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You"
    Ben LaMar Gay, voice, organ, balafon, synths; Tommaso Moretti, drums, xylophone; Macie Stewart, voice; Sima Cunningham, voice

    "Hood Rich Happy"
    Ben LaMar Gay, voice, synths, sampler, temple blocks; Tommaso Moretti, drums

    "Bang Melodically Bang"
    Ben LaMar Gay, voice, synths, programming; Tommaso Moretti, drums, thangs; Matthew Davis, tuba; Angela, Leia and Mina, a mother raises her daughters up the mic (ooh Ahh AHH Ooh), voices

    "Aunt Lola and the Quail"
    Ben LaMar Gay, cornet, synths, manipulations, voice; Tommaso Moretti, drums, trance; Johanna Brock, violin, viola, light; Tomeka Reid, cello, voice, luz; Rob Frye, flute, tings and tungs

    "Mestre Candeia’s Denim Hat"
    Ben LaMar Gay, voice, synths; Tommaso Moretti, drums; Matthew Davis, tuba

    "Oh Great Be the Lake"
    Ben LaMar Gay, voice, organ, synths, percussion; Ayanna Woods, voice, light, ¡FreshNuss!; Rob Frye, flute, ears

    "I Be Loving Me Some of You"
    Ben LaMar Gay, cornet, synth and swang, percussion; Adam Zanolini, soprano saxophone, oboe, swang; Rob Frye, percussion; Xoco, Hannah, Francesca, Angela, Adam, Benjamin, Love Choir

    "Nyuzura"
    Dorothée Munyaneza, voice; Ben LaMar Gay – cítara (zither), bass synth, drum programming; Tommaso Moretti, drums

    "Slightly Before the Dawn"
    Ben LaMar Gay, cornet, triangle, tangs; Rob Frye, flute; Adam Zanolini, soprano saxophone; Ayanna Woods, electric bass; Tommaso Moretti, percussion

    "Lean Back. Try Igbo"
    Onye Ozuzu, voice, Igbo alphabet; Ben LaMar Gay, organ, synths, background voice; Ayanna Woods, background voice; Tommaso Moretti, drums

    "Dress Me in New Love"
    Ben LaMar Gay, voice, pandeiro, beatbox, synths; Tommaso Moretti, drums; Matthew Davis, tuba

    "Touch. Don’t Scroll"
    Ben LaMar Gay, voice, tings, cornet, synth; Ayanna Woods, voice, electric bass; Tommaso Moretti, drums; Matthew Davis, tuba, trombone

    "I Once Carried a Blossom"
    Rain, pouring; Ben LaMar Gay, cornet; A.Martinez, poem

    "In Tongues and in Droves"
    Rain, continuously pouring; Ben LaMar Gay, cornet, synths, percussion; Tomeka Reid, cello; Rob Frye, flute; Matthew Davis – tuba, trombone

    "S’Phisticated Lady"
    Gira Dahnee, Florida version; Angel Bat Dawid, Louisville recollections; Ben LaMar Gay, kick drum, pandeiro

    "We Gon Win"
    Ben LaMar Gay, cornet, bass synth, programming; Matthew Davis, trombone; Rob Frye, alto flute; Tommaso Moretti, drums; Leia, Angela, Xoco, Alyssa, Mina, Benjamin, Love choir, facts

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Recorded March—June 2021 at International Anthem Studios, Chicago
    Produced by Ben LaMar Gay & Dave Vettraino
    Engineered & Mixed by Dave Vettraino
    Mastered by Dave Cooley

    Art by Ayanah Moor
    Layout by Craig Hansen

Format Availability

  • Available from Nonesuch Records in North and South America only.

nonesuch's picture
on September 9, 2021 - 6:01pm
genre: 
Release Date: 
Friday, November 19, 2021 (All day)
DescriptionExcerpt: 

Open Arms to Open Us lives up to NPR's claim that "there is no one universe for Ben LaMar Gay, he just sonic booms from one sound to another." On the album, recorded at International Anthem studios in Chicago, Gay interweaves jazz, blues, ballads, R&B, raga, new music, nursery rhyme, Tropicália, two-step, hip-hop, and beyond in his most colorful and communicable work yet, an expression of his signature omni-genre, "Pan-Americana" brew. Pre-order to download the album track "Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You" now.

Description: 

Composer, singer, and instrumental polymath Ben LaMar Gay releases his new album, Open Arms to Open Us, November 19 on International Anthem / Nonesuch Records. The first offering from the Southside Chicago native’s newest project is a pulsing melodic bellow featuring OHMME singers Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, titled "Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You." According to Gay, the song is “inspired by the preparation one makes for another when it’s time for them to enter or exit an embrace, a memory or a life." You can watch the video for it here:

Highlighted in the New York Times’s Fall 2021 preview, Open Arms to Open Us is a dispatch from “postmodern folklorist” Gay’s current place in space, filled with imaginative arrangements and his “wise and confiding baritone.”

It was produced and recorded at International Anthem Studios in Chicago between March and June of 2021. Across sixteen tracks Gay fluently interweaves jazz, blues, ballads, R&B, raga, new music, nursery rhyme, tropicalia, two-step, hip-hop and beyond in a beaming expression of his signature omni-genre “Pan-Americana” brew. Alongside his own sizable toolkit of instruments (cornet, keyboards, synthesizers, flutes, percussions), Gay surrounds himself with steady bandmates (including Tommaso Moretti on drums, Matthew Davis on tuba, and Rob Frye on woodwinds), while also shining the spotlight on female artists from his cast of regular collaborators. Featured artists on the album include: OHMME singers Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, bassist/vocalist/arranger Ayanna Woods, multi-disciplinary Rwandan artist Dorothée Munyaneza, poet A.Martinez, cellist Tomeka Reid, and vocalists Onye Ozuzu, Gira Dahnee, and Angel Bat Dawid.

Reflecting on the meaning of the music in a prologue he wrote for Open Arms to Open Us, Gay says the album’s title is “a suggestion of a body movement that is used in many spiritual practices and is also a gesture that represents a type of understanding that leads to touch or a hug.” He also says, “Open Arms to Open Us deals with rhythm as an inheritance of information – sort of like DNA or RNA. Coping with the present-day bombardment of data and recycled ideologies from sources essentially fed by the creed ‘Destroy Them. Own the Earth,’ often leaves me with only one thing to look forward to: Rhythm.”

This latest project is the follow up to Gay’s 2018 critically-acclaimed, debut album Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun, which was a compilation of previously-unreleased material composed and produced by Gay over seven years. It was heralded by Pitchfork, NPR, and the Guardian, the last of which called it, “a record of endless depth and unpredictability.” But Gay’s work is not limited to album releases. He has composed for dance troupes (including the Ruth Page Civic Ballet) and architectural features (including a 2019 duet with the DuSable Bridge in downtown Chicago), and also has done extensive film score work (including the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival award-winning documentary The Good Fight). In 2019 he debuted ‘Hecky Naw! Angels!’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, using video art and choreography to explore the shapes and sounds of Chicago’s Black social dances.

ProductionCredits: 

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Recorded March—June 2021 at International Anthem Studios, Chicago
Produced by Ben LaMar Gay & Dave Vettraino
Engineered & Mixed by Dave Vettraino
Mastered by Dave Cooley

Art by Ayanah Moor
Layout by Craig Hansen

Cover Art: 
FormatRestrictions: 

Available from Nonesuch Records in North and South America only.

ns_album_releasedate: 
Thursday, September 9, 2021 - 18:00
Album Status: 
UPC/Price: 
Label: 
"Chicago Sunset" Color LP+MP3
UPC: 
075597912272
Price: 
24.00
Label: 
Standard LP+MP3
UPC: 
075597912296
Price: 
21.00
Label: 
CD+MP3
UPC: 
075597912289
Price: 
13.00
Artist Name: 
Ben LaMar Gay
MusicianDetails: 

MUSICIANS
"Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You"
Ben LaMar Gay, voice, organ, balafon, synths; Tommaso Moretti, drums, xylophone; Macie Stewart, voice; Sima Cunningham, voice

"Hood Rich Happy"
Ben LaMar Gay, voice, synths, sampler, temple blocks; Tommaso Moretti, drums

"Bang Melodically Bang"
Ben LaMar Gay, voice, synths, programming; Tommaso Moretti, drums, thangs; Matthew Davis, tuba; Angela, Leia and Mina, a mother raises her daughters up the mic (ooh Ahh AHH Ooh), voices

"Aunt Lola and the Quail"
Ben LaMar Gay, cornet, synths, manipulations, voice; Tommaso Moretti, drums, trance; Johanna Brock, violin, viola, light; Tomeka Reid, cello, voice, luz; Rob Frye, flute, tings and tungs

"Mestre Candeia’s Denim Hat"
Ben LaMar Gay, voice, synths; Tommaso Moretti, drums; Matthew Davis, tuba

"Oh Great Be the Lake"
Ben LaMar Gay, voice, organ, synths, percussion; Ayanna Woods, voice, light, ¡FreshNuss!; Rob Frye, flute, ears

"I Be Loving Me Some of You"
Ben LaMar Gay, cornet, synth and swang, percussion; Adam Zanolini, soprano saxophone, oboe, swang; Rob Frye, percussion; Xoco, Hannah, Francesca, Angela, Adam, Benjamin, Love Choir

"Nyuzura"
Dorothée Munyaneza, voice; Ben LaMar Gay – cítara (zither), bass synth, drum programming; Tommaso Moretti, drums

"Slightly Before the Dawn"
Ben LaMar Gay, cornet, triangle, tangs; Rob Frye, flute; Adam Zanolini, soprano saxophone; Ayanna Woods, electric bass; Tommaso Moretti, percussion

"Lean Back. Try Igbo"
Onye Ozuzu, voice, Igbo alphabet; Ben LaMar Gay, organ, synths, background voice; Ayanna Woods, background voice; Tommaso Moretti, drums

"Dress Me in New Love"
Ben LaMar Gay, voice, pandeiro, beatbox, synths; Tommaso Moretti, drums; Matthew Davis, tuba

"Touch. Don’t Scroll"
Ben LaMar Gay, voice, tings, cornet, synth; Ayanna Woods, voice, electric bass; Tommaso Moretti, drums; Matthew Davis, tuba, trombone

"I Once Carried a Blossom"
Rain, pouring; Ben LaMar Gay, cornet; A.Martinez, poem

"In Tongues and in Droves"
Rain, continuously pouring; Ben LaMar Gay, cornet, synths, percussion; Tomeka Reid, cello; Rob Frye, flute; Matthew Davis – tuba, trombone

"S’Phisticated Lady"
Gira Dahnee, Florida version; Angel Bat Dawid, Louisville recollections; Ben LaMar Gay, kick drum, pandeiro

"We Gon Win"
Ben LaMar Gay, cornet, bass synth, programming; Matthew Davis, trombone; Rob Frye, alto flute; Tommaso Moretti, drums; Leia, Angela, Xoco, Alyssa, Mina, Benjamin, Love choir, facts

reissues?: 
new-release
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