The Heart of Infinite Change
(World Galaxy / Alpha Pup Records)
Release date: Sep 8, 0017
Love. Pain. Solitude. Devotion. Surrender. Victory. The cycles of human growth and change create a pacing influx of emotions, soaring through the world's consciousness as a potent force of power. A place of infinite possibilities, we live amidst the presence of immense light running in tandem with that of darkness, as love is an unwavering and unabridged home that remains unscathed. This holds especially true when considering the volume of recorded music, that acts as a refuge for us all, with the beloved musicians who share their depth of life through lyric and song.
A new respite is emerging in this world by the name of Natasha Agrama and she's become a standout in the Los Angeles music community over the last few years. The Heart of Infinite Change is her debut full-length album, joining the west coast jazz imprint World Galaxy for its release across vinyl, cassette, CD, and digital platforms.
Features include legends both foundational and new, drawing together Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Tony Austin, Vinnie Colaiuta, Mitchell Long, Ruslan Sirota, Ronald Bruner Jr., Doug Webb, and the last recordings of the late and great Austin Peralta.
The Heart of Infinite Change is a representation of roads defining Natasha Agrama's artistic connection to the LA music world and beyond, diving into master compositions by Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Joe Henderson, and Bilal. As a nod to the jazz tradition, interpretation and revitalization are at the forefront of her debut. There is a deeply touching story weaving its way around The Heart of Infinite Change, with an unspeakably tender theme of long time friends and legendary artists' final collaborations gracing Natasha's path. Stanley Clarke and George Duke's last studio collaborations are present with Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood," and Bilal's "All Matter."
The story deepens as we come to realize Austin Peralta's last recordings are also found on The Heart of Infinite Change. This was Austin's only session with both Bruner brothers, capturing Joe Henderson's "Black Narcissus" and Natasha's updated version of Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" by way of Joni Mitchell. These experiences shape the resounding reverence in Natasha's presentation, as this debut album has become a formidable historical document.
The recordings for The Heart of Infinite Change took place at various locations across Los Angeles, including Henson Recording Studios, Record 1 Studio, and Bell Sound Studios. Mixing was provided by engineering guru and multiple Grammy award winner Gerry Brown, known for working on decade defining albums by Prince, Wayne Shorter, Alicia Keys, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Marvin Gaye, and many more.
To feel the full range of emotions expressed on The Heart of Infinite Change one must go back to an important breakthrough in Natasha Agrama's life. This was a time before she was able to record with any of her heroes, and even before she fully realized the power of her unique aptitude for phrasing, emoting, and communication. Natasha, though a longtime love of jazz, began her career as a dedicated visual artist, deeply focused in studies through avant-garde performance art while working as a graphic designer, and was deeply troubled by an inability to express herself fully in her work.
That's when she began secretly writing music, and sharing it in a performance context in her community. Soon she was given an opportunity to go to Paris to pursue a collaboration with an electronic artist, and that's when her path was changed forever. Natasha Agrama provides further insight into this era: "I came out of the singer closet in France, far away from my family; I kept it a secret from them, because I was intimidated by all the musical geniuses. One fateful night, I ended up at a jazz jam, and thought to myself, 'will I ever sing at a jam session?'
Later that night, I was on stage swimming like a newborn fish! I felt home in a way that was at once terrifying, and yet so honest. I then found myself a jazz tutor / hash dealer, a real jazz man, a singer and sax player, who could only sing in english, not speak. We would listen to Ella and he would have me sing her solos, while he would pantomime the various dynamics and qualities in her voice that he wanted me to feel. He introduced me to Carmen McCrae, and many others that he was appalled I didn't know, like Mel Tormé. 'Tu no connais pas a MEL?!? He would invite me to come to his gigs and sit in with the band in old WWII swing halls. I got bit by the bug... Hard. I came back to LA and hit the ground running."
Roads travelled through major life changes and an apex of propulsion in technique, this sense of unleashed freedom is felt in every shape, form, and tone on The Heart of Infinite Change. A passageway for both grounded paths and the dream world of creative ascension, Natasha Agrama continues to expand on the momentum this new found home created in her.
The presence of her stepfather Stanley Clarke was just as integral to her path as a singer and musician, passing the baton with constant mentorship over the years. To put it an aerial view, Stanley Clarke showed her a world that very few people her age are afforded. Now as a co-producer of this album, Stanley Clarke's immense levels of music knowledge are blended into Natasha's maiden voyage as a musician. "I am so extremely grateful for him [Stanley Clarke], and love him beyond these words could describe for the force of strength and solidity that he has been for me through this whole process and over the years. He has given me a piece of his world, and elevated me through giving me his time in making this album with me, and relentlessly sharing his knowledge with me. I have had a once in a lifetime gift, being in this position, and I believe it was our destiny on so many levels to come together this way to make this album."
Every guest on the album adds their own unique touch, building environments that bring out the fullest scale of emotions from song to song, defying time and space to recreate the relationships held with Natasha Agrama over the years. As one of Los Angeles's best kept secrets to many, Natasha Agrama is a unique and inspiring singer, songwriter, and live performer, blazing a trail with many of the entities in the ever growing West Coast Get Down. Her live shows were flavored for a time by Miles Mosley, who was her musical director while performing in residency at the now legendary Piano Bar. This was the arena where she catered to her audience, transforming her shows into quasi-heavy-jazz throw downs, complete with jumping off of amps and fully packed dance floors to match. Natasha has also explored the more classic traditions of jazz music with Kamasi Washington as her side man, blowing solos on lyrical ballads and expressing sounds from the beyond.
She has also toured extensively with Stanley Clarke over the years, seeing the world through a unique lens. As a member in the choir featured on Kamasi Washington's critically acclaimed The Epic, Natasha's been working nonstop to present a side of LA jazz music that's culturally ignited and always on the pulse of the now. The Heart of Infinite Change is a commanding force of energy in that path and follows up the The Brave One EP, featuring Kamasi Washington, Miles Mosley, Thundercat, Austin Peralta, and many more.
The Heart of Infinite Change is a rumination on the deep purity of Natasha's vocal musicianship, communicating messages of personal freedom imbedded in the relief of finding a timeless home in the history of jazz artistry. A gift wrapped in the love, grace, and beauty of the themes and stories that brought this record together. The Heart of Infinite Change will coincide with the launch of Natasha Agrama's art merchandise line, offering people around the world unique books, hand-crafted clothing, t-shirts, music releases, and much more from a community of hand-picked artists.