Skip directly to content
Browse by:
  • Friday, November 19, 2021
    Ben LaMar Gay's Album 'Open Arms to Open Us' Out Now on International Anthem / Nonesuch Records

    Composer, singer, and instrumental polymath Ben LaMar Gay's new album, Open Arms to Open Us, is out today on International Anthem / Nonesuch Records, available everywhere here. The album 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." Gay will give a special album release performance, presented by International Anthem, at Public Records in Brooklyn, on Tuesday, January 18, as part of NYC Winter Jazzfest, and will perform at Big Ears Festival in Knoxville on March 26.

    Open Arms to Open Us 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.

    Journal Articles:Album ReleaseArtist News

Enjoy This Post?

Share This Post

Ben LaMar Gay's Album 'Open Arms to Open Us' Out Now on International Anthem / Nonesuch Records

Browse by:
nonesuch's picture
on November 19, 2021 - 9:30am
Article Type: 
Publish date: 
Friday, November 19, 2021 - 09:30
Excerpt: 

Composer, singer, and instrumental polymath Ben LaMar Gay's new album, Open Arms to Open Us, is out today on International Anthem / Nonesuch Records, and 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.

Copy: 

Composer, singer, and instrumental polymath Ben LaMar Gay's new album, Open Arms to Open Us, is out today on International Anthem / Nonesuch Records, available everywhere here. The album 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." Gay will give a special album release performance, presented by International Anthem, at Public Records in Brooklyn, on Tuesday, January 18, as part of NYC Winter Jazzfest, and will perform at Big Ears Festival in Knoxville on March 26.

Open Arms to Open Us 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.

featuredimage: 
Ben LaMar Gay: 'Open Arms to Open Us' [vinyl]

Related Posts

  • Thursday, May 19, 2022
    Thursday, May 19, 2022

    Ahead of the long-awaited world premiere of Omar, the opera composed by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC, next Friday, Giddens has released her own recording of the song “Julie’s Aria” from the opera. The recording was made by Giddens with guitarist Bill Frisell and her frequent collaborator Francesco Turrisi. Omar is based on the life and autobiography of enslaved Muslim scholar Omar Ibn Said, who was forcefully brought to Charleston from Africa in 1807. “My work as a whole is about excavating and shining a light on pieces of history that not only need to be seen and heard," Giddens says, "but that can also add to the conversation about what’s going on now. This is a story that hasn’t been represented in the operatic world—or in any world.” Omar will also be performed by LA Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Boston Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

    Journal Topics: Album ReleaseArtist NewsOn Tour
  • Friday, May 13, 2022
    Friday, May 13, 2022

    The Black Keys’ eleventh studio album, Dropout Boogie, is out now. “Some of the stickiest alt-boogie of their career,” says Rolling Stone. “Still raw, fast and loose,” adds the Associated Press. Classic Rock magazine exclaims: “Rock'n'roll in 2022 doesn't get any better than this.” The band was on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to perform the tracks “It Ain’t Over” and “Wild Child"; you can watch both here. The Black Keys will tour North America for the first time in three years starting in July. The band will take part in an iHeart Radio album release party tonight.

    Journal Topics: Album ReleaseArtist NewsVideo
[{"parent":{"title":"Get on the list !","body":" Get exclusive information about NONESUCH tour dates, video premieres and special announcements ","field_newsletter_id":"14075483","field_label_list_id":"6389157","field_display_rates":"-1","field_preview_mode":"false","field_lbox_height":"","field_lbox_width":"","field_toaster_timeout":"16000","field_toaster_position":"From Bottom","field_turnkey_height":"800"}}]

Performs On