Tineke Postma, Aria Review
Aria: Tineke Postma’s Lyrical Ode to Opera and Personal Expression
by Ferell Aubre
In her highly anticipated 8th album, Aria, acclaimed saxophonist and composer Tineke Postma weaves a captivating tapestry of breath, space, and operatic influences inspired by Maria Callas. Aria showcases Postma’s focus on the aria musical form central to opera, an influence on Postma and one she holds dear: mainly, the expressive and lyrical singing of Maria Callas. The result is an album built upon strong lyrical melodies and a goal to let the music breathe, all while exploring diverse aria forms common to vocal solos in operas, oratorios, and cantatas. With an ensemble featuring Ben Monder on guitar, Robert Landfermann on double bass, and Tristan Renfrow on drums, the album combines free improvisations with composed music, delving into elements such as sound, space, textures, and ambiance. In addition, Aria serves as a versatile and introspective listening experience, reflecting Postma’s personal musical journey and her desire to narrate stories through her compositions and playing.
“Sankalpa” opens the project. The title means ‘setting an intention’ in Sanskrit and is something Postma does before writing or improvising. She explains, “I wrote the bass line first, which was spontaneous, and it turned out to be kind of in 9/8. Then, on top, I wrote the melody and started adding a 3⁄8 figure on top for the guitar and added a more easy-going bridge.” The melody is loosely based on the rondo aria form, giving the composition a natural flow and development of the theme. Postma’s improvisation builds ideas as her warm tone invites focused listening. Monder’s use of distortion adds a new instrument color, and his angular lines contrast Postma’s solo, further adding dimension to the song’s flow and emotional energy.
“Hymn For Hestia” is an ode to the virgin goddess of the hearth, the right ordering of domesticity, the family, the home, and the state. Postma says, “During corona, we all were locked at home; this is about that period. This song includes Carnatic rhythms and an easy motif in the beginning of the song.” Hestia’s strong but modest personality is brought to life through a strophic aria structure that is common in folk songs and hymns. The hearth is considered the heart of the home, providing warmth and light and serving as a gathering place for family members. Here the melody serves as a hearth as the ensemble finds unity and stability within its warm melodic intervals and harmony.
Aria represents a deeply personal and introspective exploration of Postma’s love for lyrical melodies, drawing inspiration from the powerful influence of opera legend Maria Callas. In addition, by incorporating various aria forms and weaving in elements such as different instrument colors, space, and textures, Postma creates a versatile and engaging listening experience. This will resonate with listeners who enjoy a fusion of innovative improvisations combined with compositions with an intentional artistic vision and desire to tell stories through music formed from the roots of jazz and European classical music.