album artwork by Rachel Schragis
“In the Third Generation the Daughters Are Free”: Emma Alabaster’s ambitious debut album can be described best as a modern jazz concept album. Directing her attention on her family history and the social implications therein, The Third Generation explores the past with delicacy and maturity. Emma’s work is not only engaging, it effortlessly bridges the many gaps that have splintered improvised music in the American music scene. Classic bop balladry, contemporary harmony, aggressive downtown aesthetics; all play an important role in this work. All the compositions are original, yet nostalgic references peer through Alabaster’s heady mix. Playing the bass and singing simultaneously, this music is clearly an extension of the artist’s conception. The Third Generation also boasts intense spoken word delivery from Emma herself as well as musician/composer Ian Turner. Turner also contributes live laptop improvisation with the band on one track and forms a vocal trio with Emma and singer Rachel Sanders on another. However, the core of the album resides in the close interplay between Emma and her sympathetic band, which is held together by the muscular rhythms of drummer Jim Bertini, and is rounded out by tenor saxophonist Alex Carter, and electric guitarist Jonathan Nocera. In the Third Generation the Daughters Are Free carefully balances Emma Alabaster’s conceptual framework with the freedom of pure improvisation.
This project is a collective memory collage. It is a personal exposé: an attempt to make sound where there is silence and the shame and guilt it enshrouds. It is also a celebration, a tribute, a comedy and a love story. Mostly it is a conversation between truths, memories and generations, a step towards resolution. I am interested in the spaces that lie amongst personal and historical, individual and familial, inheritance and invention.
I began with a collection of family recordings, poems, letters, and photographs. My own writings, both textual and musical, are reactions to these primary sources, my experiences, impressions, and conversations.
I have always known that having a voice, speaking and singing out loud, means power. This is part of my legacy as well. I come from an artistic family filled with singers, musicians, poets, photographers, dancers, actors. I come from parents who believe in psychotherapy. I come from Brooklyn. I come from jazz, which has its own literal and figurative familial legacy.
Aurora Levins Morales writes, “It takes three generations. If you resolve your relationship with your mother you’ll both change, and your daughter will have it easier, but her daughter will be raised differently. In the third generation the daughters are free.”
Album available for purchase online through the following websites:
Check out the “Listen” page to hear previews of the tracks off the album!
Check out the “Press” page for reviews.