Nova Pangaea is a stunning testament to the beauty of our planet and the urgency of the climate crisis. The Portland-based flutist and saxophonist, John C. Savage, has corralled some of Portland's most adventurous improvisers and created a haunting, yet hopeful, quartet album that masterfully blends jazz, world music, and avant-garde sounds to convey the interconnectedness of our global community and the urgent need for collective action.

From the opening title track, Savage's flute dances delicately atop the shimmery quartal voicings of Mike Gamble's guitar. While rhythmic pulses from bassist Shao Way Wu and drummer Ken Ollis evoke the majesty of the creation of new earth.

"The Great Acceleration" expresses the chaos and tumult of a worsening disaster with a vibe that is as much Ornette Coleman's Science Fiction sessions as it is John Zorn.

Throughout the album, Savage's woodwind playing is impressive, moving shown on the pensive groaning of his clarinet on "Greta and Amira Sit on the Banks of a Mighty River Discussing the Climate Crisis." This tune takes on the ambitious task of imagining a world in which all nations work together to address the climate crisis. The quartet builds to a frenetic climax, conveying both the urgency and the potential of such a unified effort.

Meanwhile, his virtuosic flute improvisations on "4° to Oblivion" demonstrates his deep connection to the instrument and to the collaborative compositional process the band possesses on the freer pieces.

Gamble is equally impressive throughout. A master of timbre and in possession of enviable chops, Gamble demonstrates throughout why he is in such high demand as a player in a wide variety of styles.

But what truly sets "Nova Pangea" apart is its commitment to addressing the climate crisis in both its music and its messaging. Savage has made it clear that he sees his role as a musician not just as a performer, but as an advocate for positive change. The tune titles evoke a lot of imagery and emotional response and the music sees us all through the messaging.

Indeed, "Nova Pangea" is a call to action, a reminder that we are all part of a global community that is facing an existential threat. But it is also a celebration of the beauty and diversity of our planet, a testament to the power of music to connect us all. In Lie Very Still's hands, music becomes a tool for transformation, a way to imagine and enact a more just and sustainable world.

John C. Savage - alto saxophone, flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone
Mike Gamble - guitar
Shao Way Wu - bass
Ken Ollis - drums

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On Friday, May 19, 2023, at The Old Church, PJCE and Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani team up to curate an evening of music and spoken word that sets the artists free to inspire, to rejuvenate, and to provoke reflection. Mojgani and PJCE will pair Portland-based performing poets and composers to work with the 12-member jazz ensemble in a concert featuring a cross-section of composers representing many corners of the Portland poetry and jazz scenes. The title of the show comes from an essay about jazz by Langston Hughes on jazz who said:

“Jazz is a great big sea. It washes up all kinds of fish and shells and spume and waves with a steady old beat, or off-beat. And Louis must be getting old if he thinks J. J. and Kai—and even Elvis—didn’t come out of the same sea he came out of, too…The sun pulls the moon. The moon pulls the sea. They also pull jazz and me. Beyond Kai to Count to Lonnie to Texas Red, beyond June to Sarah to Billy to Bessie to Ma Rainey. And the Most is the It—the all of it.”

About the artists:

Anis Mojgani is the current Poet Laureate of Oregon. A two-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, Anis has done commissions for the Getty Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Oregon Parks Department, and the Portland Timbers. His work has appeared on HBO, National Public Radio, and in the pages of the NYTimes. Anis has been awarded residencies which include the Vermont Studio Center, the Bloedel Reserve, and GLEAN, in addition to a Poets Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets.The author of five books of poetry and the libretto for the opera Sanctuaries, his first children’s book is forthcoming from Holiday House/Neal Porter Books. Originally from New Orleans, Anis serves on the board of Literary Arts and currently lives in Portland Oregon, where he on occasion reads poems out the window of his studio.

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