The new release Impressions of Debussy brings together two current and one former faculty members of the Western Michigan University School of Music: classical pianist Lori Sims, jazz saxophonist/composer Andrew Rathbun, and jazz pianist/composer Jeremy Siskind.
In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Sims says the idea for the album goes back to the 2016 Gilmore Keyboard Festival, when she and executive director Dan Gustin went to dinner and she pitched her dream of playing the Debussy preludes. It was Gustin who added the unique twist. He though it would be fascinating to hear reworkings of the preludes by Rathbun and Siskind, two local, internationally-acclaimed jazz artists. They liked the idea. After agreeing to the project, Andrew Rathbun says he tried to stay true to the sound-world of each prelude and open up its jazz possibilities. Rathbun chose to play a soprano saxophone with a small-bore mouthpiece over his usual tenor saxophone, because it played well in both worlds.
After a successful collaboration at the Gilmore Festival, Sims, Rathbun and Siskind recorded a variety of preludes and "reimaginings" in the Dalton Center Recital Hall at WMU in March of 2017, with multi-Grammy winning producer Judith Sherman on hand to oversee the recording. The new album, which is in the running for a Grammy nomination, is now widely available through music sites and streaming platforms.