About Alma Matters
A unique and ambitious collaborative project conceived and organized by Oakland-based vocalist/flutist/drummer/producer Jeff Weinmann, Alma Matters reflects the vibrant cultural diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area, and features some of the region's most outstanding artists who have become leading voices in contemporary music.
2018 Alma Matters Projects
Alma Matters latest single, "Mama Knows," was recorded at Berkeley's legendary (sadly, now shuttered) Fantasy studios in the spring of 2018. Co-founder Jeff Weinmann, came up with the title when thinking about the state of the planet and what "she's" telling us through climate change. Right around the same time the "Me Too" movement was becoming prominent and Weinmann thought that hearing a young woman's perspective was important, so Natalie Cressman was asked to write the song from her perspective in the first verse, and then to write something for her mother, Sandy Cressman, to sing in response to her verse which leads to the chorus and then a final verse which connects the narrative to Mother Nature.
Check out "Mama Knows"
Alma Matters next single, “Absolute”, is a collaboration with fellow Berkeley High School alum and rapper Chris Burger (Alphabet Soup, Mo’fessionals). Peter Apfelbaum took a theme originally written by the phenomenal Cuban drummer/composer/band leader Dafnis Prieto and transformed it into a piano piece. Chris then wrote lyrics and a hook for the song, which is now a full band arrangement complete with rapping, vocals from Natalie and Sandy, driving horns and percolating percussion. The song is currently being made into a video in collaboration with artist Brian Clarke (long-time classmate of Jeff Weinmann and Jeff Cressman). Brian created a character that has been animated and the group plans to create an internet comic strip featuring his art and their music with Chris' lyrics.
Here's the opening clip:
About Alma Matters, self-titled debut release, 2016
Alma Matters is a collection of songs "with a message" interspersed with grooving, African- and Latin-infused instrumentals whose horn-laden melodies call out and unfold over a thick layer of drums and percussion.
Co-produced by SF-based trombonist/recording engineer Jeff Cressman and Berkeley-born, now NY-based multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum, the recording draws heavily from the Bay Area's jazz scene. Indeed, many of the participants came through the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble and/or Apfelbaum's world music big band, the Hieroglyphics Ensemble, but the album also draws from the local Gospel and Latin scenes as well.
The multifaceted album includes re-imagined, Afro-Latin percussion-heavy covers of the spirituals "Wade In The Water" (done with a brass band and featuring Gospel singers Terrence Kelly and Destani Wolf) and "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (featuring Sandy Cressman's vocals and Apfelbaum's tenor sax over intermittent horn chorales and Josh Jones' congas). It also features Paul Simon's classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water" done as a vocal quartet with Apfelbaum on piano, and a reggae version of the 70's soul hit "Get Involved" featuring vocalist Tony Lindsay (Jeff Cressman's bandmate in the Santana band for years). Also featured are cinematically orchestrated originals by Apfelbaum, Sandy and Natalie Cressman (whose "You'll Never Follow" features fellow rising star Elena Pinderhughes on vocals) and trumpeter Erik Jekabson, and includes a churning, suite-like meditation on recycling, "Use It All", by Apfelbaum's latest band, Sparkler.