New York, NY. Tuesday, November 24. Among a talented field of singer-songwriters from across North America who showcased at last Saturday’s 13th annual Mountain Stage / NewSong Showcase and Competition, it was the jazz and bossa nova influenced duo Max Hatt / Edda Glass whom the judges chose as this year’s grand prize winner.
“Once again the caliber of artists who performed at this year’s NewSong showcase and competition exceeded what were already high expectations,” says Gar Ragland, NewSong’s director and co-founder. “Among this year’s talent, the songs and performance sensibilities of Max Hatt / Edda Glass often defied categorization, making them arguably the most distinctive finalist act – let alone winner – we’ve ever had in the program’s thirteen year history. We’re excited to introduce their music to a broader audience, and along with producer and musician Pat Sansone, to create a recorded body of work that’s as unique, artful and engaging as their performances were at Lincoln Center last weekend.”
Based in Santa Fe, NM and previously from Helena, MT, the winning duo’s influences range from “Girl from Ipanema” to Neil Young. At Lincoln center they played songs about high plains, pioneer women, and gunslingers. They also played songs featuring jazz guitar improvisation, including their original Bossa, ‘Occasional Summer.’ ”Longing across distance,” says Glass, “be it prairie or time or an unresolved chord— that’s what ties it together for me.”
The jazz influence comes as no surprise to Max Hatt / Edda Glass’s New Mexico and Montana fans, who know them first as Rio, featuring Hatt’s improvisation, Glass’s knack for Brazilian Portuguese, and the works of great composers like Cole Porter and Antonio Carlos Jobim. “The songs we play with Rio— Stardust or Girl from Ipanema — those songs were massively popular in their day. People would lose themselves in the sheer melody of it,” says Glass. “With our original music we want to draw more people into that listening experience again, both through the lyric and the composition. We want it to be immediately accessible and beautiful, but with the musical depth and richness of jazz— so the more you listen the more you get.”
“Pop music is on a well-documented trend toward simpler and simpler music that doesn’t push its melodic and harmonic envelope,” adds Hatt. “As a songwriter I’m trying to tell the musical stories that aren’t being told. Edda does the same thing with the lyric and the delivery. The trick is that it has to resonate, even as it surprises.”
As grand-prize winners, Max Hatt / Edda Glass will perform on NPR’s Mountain Stage, at the Sundance Film Festival’s ASCAP Music Café, and in their own Lincoln Center concert. They will also make an EP with producer Pat Sansone of Wilco and Autumn Defense, recorded at Asheville, North Carolina’s Echo Mountain Recording Studios. “The excitement of that creative collaboration is only just dawning on us now,” says Glass. “Doing our work— living in the creative zone— that’s the whole point.“
“It was an honor and a pleasure to be a part of last weekends NewSong Showcase,” says producer and musician Sansone, who served as a judge. “I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of talent on the stage that day, and I truly enjoyed meeting and listening to all of the artists in attendance. It was a fantastic experience and I can’t wait to get to work on the EP with the winners Max Hatt and Edda Glass early next year. NewSong celebrates great undiscovered songwriting, and this past weekend definitely felt like that…a celebration.”
This year’s panel of judges included Sansone, NewSong’s Gar Ragland, Lincoln Center’s Claudia Norman and ASCAP’s Loretta Muñoz.
“For more than 10 years, the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest has provided a platform for some of today’s most talented singer-songwriters to be discovered and take their music career to the next level,” says Muñoz. “As part of our mission to foster the next generation of great songwriters, ASCAP is proud to partner with NewSong in providing this opportunity. We congratulate all of this year’s semi-finalists, it was a very difficult decision…. the talent was exceptional. We’re thrilled to be able to showcase this year’s winners, the sublime Max Hatt / Edda Glass, at our Sundance ASCAP Music Café in January.”
Now in its 13th year, the NewSong Contest is one of the premier showcases of emerging performers and songwriters in North America, produced in association with NPR’s Mountain Stage. Its mission is to build a supportive community of performers and songwriters across all genres of music and levels of skill, and to identify the truly exceptional artists within this community and then work closely with these artists to develop their careers and introduce their music to a broader, international audience.
“There are so many of us listeners and musicians who want more from music, but we’re all getting lost in the noise— we can’t even find each other,” says winner Glass. “NewSong is narrowing the gap. Even before we went to New York, I was already really intrigued by some of our fellow finalists whom I only discovered through NewSong. Then to meet them and see them live— really cool. To create an atmosphere of mutual support and camaraderie, have the excitement of a contest, and do it all in NYC in two days time— that is really quite a feat.”
For more information on NewSong, visit newsong-music.com
For more information on Max Hatt / Edda Glass, visit maxhatteddaglass.com