Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble

The New Immigrant Experience

Why not award five stars to this two-CD set, which comes along with a DVD? The temptation was strong. But very few albums merit this distinction: Kind Of Blue, Jazz At Massey Hall. Now, The New Immigrant Experience might be recognized as a masterpiece in years to come, but today, its relevance adds to its impact.

Salles based the album on stories shared by young “Dreamers.” The composer conducted interviews and found his titles for each section of the album from what they told him. More than that, he drew melodic inspiration from the rhythm, pitch and timbre of their words. As a result, his meters and structures are complex, yet never inaccessible, as if the music itself is speaking to us. “It’s Just Lines On The Ground” opens with a one-note repetition, chattering out of tempo like voices in urgent conversation. This motif echoes through several rhythmic and textural settings, reminding listeners of the message behind Salles’ beautifully crafted chart. Fiery moments occur, though more reflective ones complement them and serve a greater narrative.

But this isn’t about groove. It’s about hearing what often-neglected people have been trying to get others to hear—a goal that Salles achieves brilliantly.