Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

March 10, 2013

new album “Return: The Journey” (KSE #251) from Boston trumpeter-composer Forbes Graham

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:23 pm


“Return: The Journey” (KSE #251, cdr album)

$8 US/ $10 elsewhere, postpaid

payment via paypal to django5722(at)yahoo(dot)com     please include note indicating what items you are ordering

the new album from the acclaimed Boston trumpeter-composer

FORBES cover

Although I had seen his name in print before, Boston-based trumpeter-composer Forbes Graham’s music first entered my world with the stunning 2010 album ESSENCES, a series of duets with percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, seven tracks recorded in 2008, each inspired by a particular scent, or “essence.’ Graham’s jaw-dropping mastery of extended techniques, his repertoire of textures, his rich conception of sound-in-space….I was blown away, and the album was high on my best of the year list for 2010. I sent that list to Mr. Graham, and as I wanted to hear more of his work and to share that work far and wide, I invited him to record a new album for CDR release on Kendra Steiner Editions…..he graciously accepted, and the result is RETURN: THE JOURNEY (KSE #251)

forbes album

RETURN: THE JOURNEY is an almost-hour-long excursion through different terrains in each of the eight tracks. As the album begins, we’re taken into some anonymous space with distant coughs and creaks and footsteps and speech just beyond our reach, but that pulls us into the space, making it quite specific, and while this is happening abstract smears of heartbeat-funk electronics and crinkling percussion provide the listener with a sense of the life force present in whatever space we inhabit. Track two brings Forbes’ trumpet into the scene, darting and querying and engaging in a dance with the electronics (all sounds by Mr. Graham, by the way), and each track after that takes us into another new territory in sound. There is deep African soil mixed into snippets of contemporary  intellectual-speak and sci-fi travels into into the cosmos…in some ways, this is the perfect updating of those areas investigated by Sun Ra and Don Cherry in the previous century. And Graham’s trumpet is a traveler on this journey, along with the listener. You’ll hear echoes of players as diverse as cornetist/trumpeter Tricky Sam Nanton, of the early Ellington years, to the pure-sound explorations through extended techniques of trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff. However, it’s fair to say that the album highlights Graham the composer and painter-in-sound, as opposed to being an instrumental blowout.

A writer is never supposed to say that “this album seems longer than it is,” but this one DOES in the sense that you lose all sense of time. It may clock in at around an hour, but the depth of the material and the breadth of the journey are such that I could have just spent an afternoon with the album. Near the album’s close, on the track “Walkthrough: National Portrait Gallery” we are once again knee-deep in site-specific environmental sound, as if we are “touching down” again on the ground before taking off again on the final track with “Black Starships Executing Spacefold Operations.”

Forbes Graham has delivered us a fascinating album that really cannot be put comfortably into any genre. The man’s compositional skill sits alongside his instrumental skills and spontaneity, and the found-materials of contemporary life, which act as a kind of seasoning and thickener in this 21st Century gumbo. And there’s always that hint of abstract funk in the background, almost like a trace element in a homeopathic mixture–more of an echo than a physical presence.

Listeners who appreciate modern composition, field recordings, free-improv, and audio collage will find RETURN: THE JOURNEY a fascinating trip, one that they will return to often.  Forbes Graham is working in his own unique territory here—I can’t think of anyone who combines elements the way he does. It will be exciting to hear the new directions he’ll venture into on his next album…and the one after that…

I usually don’t quote the artist’s verbatim statements on the music unless s/he requests it, but Graham’s comments on this album are so clear that they can only be weakened by paraphrase, so I’m going to quote in full his take on the album: “Returning is the process of traveling to a destination that represents sincerity, humility, and quiet dignity. Therefore, my task is to produce music and sound that as honestly represents my feelings and thoughts as possible. The travel is that exploration through different fields, ideas, and genres within the framework of some sort of overarching idea.    Whatever I do, in my own way, I try to keep it funky, which is probably most notable on a track like “We Got It”. But the whole album drips with a feeling of sci-fi future funk. It never can hurt to be funky, and sometimes we need the release and escape of imagining fantastical other worlds.”


Forbes Graham is a trumpet player, composer, and electronic musician based in Boston. He has performed and or recorded across North America and Europe with David Gross, Rakalam Bob Moses, Joe Morris, Luther Gray, Jim Hobbs, Raqib Hassan, Syd Smart, Birgit Ulher, Leonel Kaplan, Jack Wright, Tatsuya Nakatani, Daniel Levin, Ras Moshe, Laurence Cook, Jacob William, Cooper-Moore, Darius Jones, Sabir Mateen, Pandelis Karayorgis, Kevin Frenette and many more wonderful artists.


Selected FG discography

Interdimensional Science Research Orchestra – Suns of Ra

Forbes Graham – I Won’t Stop

Weasel Walter/Paul Flaherty/Greg Kelley/Forbes Graham – End of the Trail

Weasel Walter/Marc Edwards Group – Blood of the Earth

Tatsuya Nakatani & Forbes Graham – Essences

Construction Party – Instruments of Change

forbes 2

while ordering Forbes Graham’s new album, why not pick up more independent, original, and spellbinding  experimental music that you cannot get elsewhere:

KSE #243 (CDR), VENISON WHIRLED (Lisa Cameron), “The Many Moods of Venison Whirled”

KSE #255 (CDR),  ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE / LISA CAMERON / LEE DOCKERY, Live at the KSE 6th Anniversary Concert

KSE #239 (CDR),  FOSSILS, “Bells and Gulls,” 


KSE #235 (CDR),  BOOK OF SHADOWS, “Chimaera”


KSE #222 (CDR), MASSIMO MAGEE, “Sopranino Solo, “ cover art by MP Landis.

KSE #220 (CDR),  MATT KREFTING, “Sweet Days of Discipline”

KSE #247 (CDR), MARCUS RUBIO & BILL SHUTE, “Only The Imprint Of An Echo Remains” (poetry and electronic music album, recorded in San Antonio, TX)

KSE #237 (CDR), MICHAEL BARRETT & MIKE GRIFFIN, ““Birtual Seme-Alabak” (aka Belltonesuicide and Parashi)

KSE #228 (CDR), UNMOOR, “Night Driver”

KSE #226 (CDR), DEREK ROGERS, “Born Into Systems”

KSE #208 (CDR), ANTHONY GUERRA & BILL SHUTE, “subtraction” (limited USA re-press of CD originally issued on Black Petal Records, Australia)

KSE #214 (CDR), SABRINA SIEGEL,”Bottlecaps” 



$8 each US postpaid/$10 elsewhere for first CDR, $8 each after the first…

payment via paypal to django5722(at)yahoo(dot)com        please include a note listing which items you are ordering…



JUNE-JULY 2013ALFRED 23 HARTH, Micro-Saxo-Phone: 4


1 Comment »

  1. […] what I can gather is Graham’s first full-length solo release since 2013’s ambitious Return: The Journey, doesn’t submit to such expectations, and instead delivers a colorful soundscape of field […]

    Pingback by Review: Forbes Graham – Lagos Playground (self-released, Oct 18) – Noise Not Music — October 22, 2019 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

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