People of the Dawn is the debut album from Spencer Zahn, bassist, multi- instrumentalist, and composer. He has spent the last several years as an in-demand sideman and collaborator, touring and recording with artists from across a wide musical spectrum. While traveling as a bassist and keyboard player, Zahn started recording synthesizer experiments in his off time. These experiments - musical snapshots of cities all over the world - became the foundation of People of the Dawn, an album that seeks to merge the chaotic wisdom of jazz improvisation with the warm pulse of electronica.
Zahn moved to Brooklyn in 2006 and spent the following years playing jazz and improvised music in New York. During that time he met the late Charlie Haden - original member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet, the Keith Jarrett ‘American Quartet’, and founder of the Liberation Music Orchestra - whose double bass playing revolutionized ideas of melody and harmony. They hit it off, and Spencer started tour managing and assisting Haden, an experience he describes as particularly formative for his playing. He learned about music, life, and what it is to be a professional musician from Haden. Haden's advice was a view into what it truly means to explore music and find depth in sound. Quietly, this is the same approach Zahn has taken over the past five years, as a key touring member of bands such as Empress Of, Twin Shadow, Autre Ne Veut and Kimbra.
People of the Dawn sees Zahn step away from the stage and into the studio with his own boundary pushing ideas. The record centers around the bass as a sound and instrument of melodic expression. Using the bass as an anchor for spectral synth textures, Zahn weaves the acoustic and electronic together. Throughout the record there's a dialogue between experimental electronics and contemporary jazz motifs that feels like uncharted territory. The result is a strange new map that casts Zahn as both cartographer and explorer of the sound. Dawn was recorded in Brooklyn in collaboration with producer Dave Harrington, virtuoso guitarist and member of electronic duo, Darkside. The album features Zahn in conversation with Harrington’s electronic processing, manipulating acoustic instruments in real-time, the two longtime collaborators searching for, and creating, new forms for improvising. People of the Dawn was made in the spirit of a jazz album with the tools of contemporary electronic music.