The Lights Are Always On is pianist/composer Lynne Arriale’s 16th album as leader, and her third recording on Challenge Records International. Lynne’s original music is a suite of compositions that reflect the world-wide, life-changing events of the past two years. Several of the pieces are named in honor of heroes around the world, including those who served as caregivers on the front lines of the COVID pandemic and as defenders of democracy.
On this session Lynne is joined by bassist/co-producer Jasper Somsen and drummer E.J. Strickland, both outstanding, in-demand musicians on the international jazz scene. The trio creates the sort of engrossing musical conversation that has become a trademark of Lynne’s groups.
Lynne’s ten original, highly evocative compositions begin with the persistent Afro-Cuban influenced “March On,” a tribute to activists worldwide. “The Lights Are Always On” features a lyrical melody in perpetual motion; the foundation of a thematic arc that soars over the entire piece. It is followed by the jubilant, gospel-influenced “Sisters.” Lynne’s dedication to Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, “Honor,” is the melding of two engaging melodic ideas; each reinforcing the other. Together they convey the heroic character and unwavering strength of this American patriot. “Loved Ones” expresses joyful appreciation for those who are precious to us.
The set continues with “Sounds Like America,” where Lynne creates an optimistic melody and solo, culminating in a celebratory chordal finish. “The Notorious RBG,” is an exuberant dedication to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, assertively propelled by drummer E.J. Strickland. Following that, Lynne and Jasper deftly navigate the angular harmonic construction of “Into the Breach,” Lynne’s ominous remembrance of the January 6th Insurrection and the heroes that saved democracy on that day. “Walk in My Shoes,” a dedication to civil rights icon John Lewis, reflects the tenacity and strength of this remarkable leader. Lynne begins her solo with two motivic statements, which she skillfully integrates into a cohesive, powerful performance. The album concludes with “Heroes”, a heartfelt ballad composed in recognition of those who enlightened a very dark period in our history, and who embody the greatest humanistic virtues of mankind.
The title of the project was inspired by Dr. Prakash Gada, an esophageal and robotic surgeon in Tacoma, Washington. Lynne explained, “This collection was inspired by the doctor and all front-line health care workers. For me, Dr. Gada crystallized the workers’ heroism; each day bearing the risk of personal infection, and enduring the emotional toll of staggering caseloads presented by this global crisis. Nevertheless, the doctor said, ‘Here I am back at work after COVID...I fled Kuwait after the invasion. No matter what happens, no one works at home. The lights are always on. Babies are being born; bones are being set. This hospital, this profession…..we are in a league of our own; we’ll take care of you, I promise. I stand next to the most fearless people I have ever seen.’ ”
“Dr. Gada’s words deeply moved me and evoked memories of 9/11. In the aftermath of that attack, I remembered the rescue workers who ran into the towers without hesitation or concern for their personal safety, and thought, ‘Who are these angels?’ Clearly, the angels of our time are Dr. Gada and all health care workers, professionals and volunteers alike, who battle COVID-19.
“Dr. Gada’s ‘lights’ illuminate hospitals and emergency care facilities. But there is also spiritual light in the humanity, compassion, and courage of Dr. Gada and all our angels; shining brightly and eternally, even in the midst of devastation and loss.”
“There is always reason to believe in that light; the inherent goodness of people. It shines in those leaders who spoke truth to power and stood up for what is right. They changed the world, often jeopardizing their careers, and in some cases, their lives.
“In appreciation of these heroes I offer this musical tribute. It is dedicated to our loved ones, and to our better angels; those who embrace truth, compassion, and inclusivity, and reject selfishness, lies, and hatred. It also acknowledges the marchers, my beautiful sisters worldwide, and the heroes of science and medicine who have sacrificed so much.
"The album also expresses my special admiration for the character of Representative John Lewis, Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the patriots of the Capitol Police who stepped into the breach risking their lives to defend our elected representatives and our democracy during the January 6, 2021 Insurrection.”
“One of the most exciting pianists in contemporary jazz” (The Guardian- UK),
pianist Lynne Arriale has performed on international concert stages over the past 25 years. Jazz Police called her "the poet laureate of her generation". She has been consistently praised as having a "singular voice" as a pianist, bandleader and composer. JazzTimes said of her, “Lynne Arriale’s music lies at the synaptic intersection where brain meets heart, where body meets soul. She is one of jazzdom’s most intensely unique voices."
Lynne was the first prize winner of the 1993 International Great American Jazz Piano Competition. Her 15 albums as a leader have topped the JazzWeek radio charts including: Inspiration #1, Arise #1, Come Together #3, Nuance #4, Convergence #4, Chimes of Freedom #8 and were recognized on numerous "Best Of" lists, including The New Yorker and United Press International. LIVE (CD/DVD) was named one of UPI’s Best Jazz CDs and among The New Yorker magazine’s Best CDs of the year. Solo was named one of the top CDs of 2012 by JAZZIZ magazine, and Convergence was named one of the top 50 CDs of 2011 by JazzTimes. Her release, Give Us These Days, was included in the top Jazz CDs of 2018 by Jazz History Online and the Best New Jazz Releases of 2018 by Artsfuse. Chimes of Freedom was named one of the Best CDs of 2020 by Downbeat and Best Jazz Instrumental Releases of 2020 by Jazz History Online. Lynne was voted #13, #17 and #18 in the piano category for the 2015, 2016 and 2018 Downbeat Reader's Poll.
She toured Japan with “100 Golden Fingers”, a group that included iconic jazz pianists Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Monty Alexander, Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron, Harold Mabern, Roger Kellaway, Junior Mance and Ray Bryant. She has performed and/or recorded with jazz masters, Randy Brecker, George Mraz, Benny Golson, Rufus Reid, Larry Coyell and Marian McPartland, to name a few.
The world's great jazz festivals and concert stages have invited Lynne to perform, including five performances at the Kennedy Center and additional performances at Lincoln Center, Montreux, Burghausen, Gilmore, Spoleto Arts, Montreal, Monterey, North Sea, Stuttgart, Pori, San Francisco, Ottawa, Zagreb, Perth, Brisbane, Rouen, Cannes MIDEM, Sardinia, Rochester, Wigan, Poznan, Estoril, Palermo, Inverness, Cork and San Javier.
Lynne’s tours have taken her to Brazil, Germany, Austria, Serbia, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Australia, Japan, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, China, South Africa and the U.S.
Her live TV and radio appearances and concert performances include Profile of a Recording Artist, NPR’s Weekend Edition, Jazz Set, Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland. Her print media features include Billboard, Downbeat, JazzTimes, JAZZIZ, BBC Magazine, and the London Times. Lynne was the first woman to have the cover story for JazzEd magazine, and additional cover stories include One Way and M magazines. Her live media appearances include CNN/FN’ Biz, NPR’s Jazz Piano Christmas – Live from The Kennedy Center, and radio/TV interviews throughout the U.S., U.K., and Europe, including the BBC, Radio France and German National Television.
Lynne is also an active educator and adjudicator. She has conducted master classes and clinics internationally throughout the US, UK, Europe, Canada, Brazil and South Africa. She adjudicated the Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works, the Montreux Jazz Competition, American Pianists Association Fellowship Awards, The Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Competition, The American Jazz Pianist Competition and the Jacksonville Piano Competition. She was a featured mentor at The Mary Lou Williams Emerging Artist Workshop at the Kennedy Center.
Lynne is a Yamaha artist and is currently Professor of Jazz Studies and Director of Small Ensembles at The University of North Florida in Jacksonville. In 2018, she was awarded the UNF Presidential Leader Award and was runner-up for the 2020 and 2021 UNF Faculty Association Distinguished Professor Award.