Jazz pianist Garry Dial and folk singer Terre Roche have undertaken an ambitious project, bringing countries together with a gallery of national anthems. The collection comes together on Dial and Roche’s latest CD, Us An’Them, featuring renditions of national anthems from a number of countries such as Brazil, France, Tibet, Norway, Esperanto, and many others. Dial and Roche have sought to make the world’s individual communities aware of each other through this album. Dial developed his skills as a connoisseur of world music from his position as a teacher at the Manhattan School of Music, and Roche through her performing and songwriting in the group which she formed with her sisters called The Roches. This album has been a work in progress for seventeen years, and the result is a compilation that showcases a wide breadth of material with cultural significance.
Dial and Roche modernized the anthems without diluting their ethnicity like the samba rhythms of Brazil’s national anthem and the Yiddish flavoring of Israel’s. The people from the countries represented on the album will recognize their national anthems and learn others. Roche explains in a recent press release, "It’s a way to make friends with somebody from another country, and be a bridge between us and them." Dial adds, "Our anthem ("The Star-Spangle Banner") is known around the world, so I feel that it’s time that we actually learn other people’s anthems." Becoming acquainted with the subtle ethnic nuances and flavorful tones of other countries music also makes the listener aware that many of these sounds have seeped their way into pop culture music like the sprightly chimes of Tibet’s national anthem and the reclining torchlight embers of Austria’s.
Dial and Roche enlisted nearly 50 different instrumentalists and singers for the project. Dial arranged most of the songs and Roche sings on many of them, often in the company of a vocalist from the country whose anthem is being sung. Great care was taken to keep the material true to the national character of the country whose song is being represented. For instance, the tabla played by India’s master Samir Chatterjee frames the spiritual chanting resonance of his wife’s vocals, Sanghamitra, with words written by India’s beloved poet Rabindratha Tagore. Such ethnic nuances give the listener a sense of learning something about these cultures, its people and their fidelity to their country without ever being there.
The album is an ambitious project which connects the world through music, be it in the reggae grooves of Jamaica’s national anthem or the folksy sprigs of Greenland’s. It is an album that is as much an educational piece as it is entertaining. Dial and Roche’s effort shows mass consciousness, and a desire to see peace and understanding for one another flourish on a worldwide scale.