As a longtime friend of Bang on a Can’s founding composers and a creative firebrand in his own right, Jeffrey Brooks makes music that shimmers with bold intensity and an enveloping warmth. Big expressive gestures, heavy basslines, echoes of pop and rock, jagged dissonance and New York-style “downtown” noise are all signatures of his vibrant and electric sound.
He first met Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe while a student at Yale in the mid-1980s, eventually returning to his home state of Minnesota and taking up residence in Minneapolis, where he was artistic director of the American Composers Forum from 1990 to 1995. Brooks might be best known for his wind ensemble work Dreadnought (1996), but perhaps just as significantly, he is one of the few modern classical composers with a penchant for chasing rhythm in a way that even dancefloor DJs can understand.
“I think there’s music that you can really get your head around intellectually,” Brooks observes, “and there’s music that you can get your head around emotionally one way or another, and then there’s music that you can just experience physically, with the subwoofers going through your body—like dance music. And the music I try to write has all three of those things.”
The Passion collects three of his most compelling works: After the Treewatcher, Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother (dedicated to Steve Martland) and the epic title piece. Featuring edgy, raucous performances by the Bang on a Can All-Stars (with Taylor Levine subbing on guitar for Mark Stewart) and the New York-based large ensemble Contemporaneous,conducted by David Bloom, the recording is, in essence, a tribute to the lasting power of friendship, and a triumph of the human spirit.
Released in partnership with innova Recordings