Andrew D'Angelo's charismatic presence and iconoclastic musical ambition have been well-established over the course of his twenty year plus career and his key roles in bands like Human Feel, the Matt Wilson Quartet and Tyft. His dedication to pushing his limits and his willingness to delve into new musical areas have been powerful inspirations to his peers and to a new generation of improvisers. His forceful tone and aggressive improvisational style have made him one of the most influential alto saxophonists of his time.
"D'Angelo is an expressionist. On alto, he wields a visceral, heart-on-sleeve tone"
- Jazztimes Magazine
Andrew D'Angelo was raised in Seattle, where he forged powerful musical and personal relationships with fellow young musicians Chris Speed and Jim Black before moving to New York City in 1986. He reconnected with Speed and Black in Boston, where they formed Human Feel with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel.
Human Feel would prove to be one of the central incubators of new jazz for the 1990's. When the band moved to Brooklyn in the early 1990's, they were rapidly absorbed into the blossoming downtown music scene, becoming sidemen of choice for many world-renowned artists. D'Angelo joined bands and made records with Erik Friedlander, Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft/Cuong Vu and would forge another long-lasting musical relationship with drummer Matt Wilson.
As a composer, D'Angelo has created a powerful personal language rooted in jazz but incorporating influences from electro-acoustic music, noise, and modern classical music. D'Angelo's work as a composer has included music for big band, chamber groups, string orchestra, various jazz ensembles and soloists.
Human Feel - feat. Jim Black (drums) / Andrew D’Angelo (as/bc) / Kurt Rosenwinkel (gui) / Chris Speed (ts/fl)
Human Feel’s music was characterised by an important critic as “a mystic language from a place where voyages begin”. Downbeat called them “a promising new leading edge of jazz” and wrote “This nouveau chamber group is willing to risk inciting the guests to riot and wreck the chamber”.
Founded in the late 80ties by Seattleites Jim Black, Andrew D’Angelo and Chris Speed, they later hooked up with Kurt Rosenwinkel in Boston @ Berklee College of Music in the early 90ties, and Kurt joined the band from there on.
After their eponymous debut release caught the ear of Gunther Schuller , he picked up their 2nd album entitled “Scatter” and released it on GM in the spring of 1991.
Following the Boston years they all subsequently relocated to New York City, and became mainstays on the “downtown” scene, performing at venues like Knitting Factory & Tonic. They released their 3rd Human Feel album entitled Welcome to Malpesta (New World) in 1994 followed by their album “Speak to it” on Songlines in 1997. Then their individual careers took them in different directions until they reunited again in 2007 for the album “Galore” and some subsequent touring in Europe.
Now the band is re-uniting for the first time since “Galore”, and are ready to continue the adventure with a new album already recorded at “The Loove” in Brooklyn and to be released June 2014.
rhythm: Ben Monder - Dan Weiss - Trevor Dunn
trumpet: Kirk Knuffke - Jacob Wick - Seneca Black
trombone: Brian Drye - Ryan Snow - Josh Roseman
saxophone: Bill McHenry - Josh Sinton - Greg Ward
D'Angelo's volcanic saxophone playing is only the surface, the music of the DNA Orchestra is about a lot more than being rambunctious. The unabashed nature of the Orchestra represents D'Angelo's renewed sense of purpose, thanks to his recent brush with death. In 2008, D'Angelo has a seizure while driving, beginning a turn of events leading to the eventual removal of a tennis-ball size brain tumor. "After having two brain surgeries, I embarked on a new existence: one of healing" says, D'Angelo.
The DNA Orchestra isn't merely a musical outlet for a performer who was forced to deal with severe illness. The ensemble, and the music itself, is integrally linked to the entire medical event. It was conceived as a response to D'Angelo's cancer, and it ultimately played a role in the cancer's annihilation. The band is a community that supported D'Angelo during his healing. The weaving, angular lines of the music are as tenacious as the tendrils of the disease itself. The effusion of emotion carries a weight and energy as effective as any cure. "After understanding why cancer had come into my life, I learned how to use my art and music as healing."
The power of this music may be brute, but it is anything but wild. It is contained withing the boundaries of narrative. "I designed this set of music to tell a story," he says. "There is healing, love, darkness, anger.. and even more in between the lines." D'Angelo's composition "Meg Nem Sa," one of the pieces written post "brain", traces his path through wild pre-healed times, bitterly overwhelming confusion, darkness, and the tireless fight for survival.