Song of the Day: Emiliano Sampaio, “New Old Paths”

Emiliano Sampaio realizes his dream of writing music for his own large-scale symphonic jazz orchestra.

Brazilian-born multi-instrumentalist Emiliano Sampaio has been turning heads and making waves for the past few years, including via previously-released albums, leading a variety of combinations, from trios to nonets to big bands. Yet, his latest full-length release may be his most important one yet, since it marks the realization of his longtime personal ambition to write music for his own large-scale symphonic jazz orchestra, including woodwinds, brass, percussion and a 17-piece string section. Traversing many moods and emotions, We Have a Dream is also conceptually inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech and finds Sampaio applying his uniquely developed concept to communicate messages and represent serious themes.

The full extent of the various colors and textures that he has assembled for We Have a Dream is unleashed from the beginning on “New Old Paths,” a dynamic composition that metamorphoses into a cool groove enriched by Sampaio’s turn on vibraphone after an extended, soaring beginning sets the scene. (You can hear the track via the player below.) Along with its conclusive counterpart, aptly titled “Old New Paths,” this track also immediately draws attention to the artist’s approach to the renewal of the fabled exploration of the intersections between jazz and classical music, where forms old and new openly interact with each other.

Interestingly, the album comes not long after his artistic doctoral research, “Restructuring Within and Between Jazz and Classical Orchestras,” which he successfully completed with honors in 2021. Putting his theories into practice, We Have a Dream feels like the culmination of a unique, genre-blurring and time-defying process that Sampaio himself has described via an official statement as “a large work that dissolves the ‘invisible wall’ between classical and jazz musicians, bringing them together and finding new ways for cooperation and interaction. The whole process created a new relationship and hierarchy between composer, conductor, musicians and written music, showing that an orchestra playing should be an inspiring example of people working together.”

Emiliano Sampaio’s We Have a Dream is available now.

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