t e s s e t e r r a is Laurence's new program of standards re-woven for jazz trio and string quartet - innovative arrangements of iconic selections ranging from Cole Porter to Sting, Hoagy Carmichael to Paul McCartney, Chopin to Crosby Stills & Nash.
Titles as diverse as Wichita Lineman, Blackbird, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, We Shall Overcome - even a Chopin Waltz (Opus 64 no. 2 in C#Minor), all vividly arranged in a style we're calling "third stream nouveau" - the sound of the string quartet brings a definite classical element to this project, but the central idea is for the trio to shine as a fully functioning jazz trio, weaving improvisatory exploration within the fabric of thoroughly composed orchestrations.
t e s s e t e r r a is Laurence's invention, and translates roughly as "the sonic fabric of the world." It's an amalgam of tessitura and terra. Terra is latin for ‘earth'; ‘tessitura' means ‘texture' in Italian but musically refers to the most favorable portion of a voice's (or instrument's) overall range. So perhaps an even more accurate definition would be "the world's most pleasing musical textures."
Inevitably part of t e s s e t e r r a 's proposition is that, in an important sense, jazz improvisation is less about what's being played but more about how it's being played.
Just as Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and others adapted the great popular songs of Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, etc., into jazz of the bebop era, modern jazz players have begun to do the same: bringing the amazing songwriting of artists like Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Carole King, Burt Bacharach, Sting, etc., into the jazz canon.
The recording features Laurence's jazz trio (drummer Jared Schonig and bassist Matthew Clohesy) and the amazing string quartet, ETHEL (Ralph Farris/viola, Dorothy Lawson/cello, Kip Jones and Corin Lee/violin.)