The song begins slowly, while light percussion and familiar keystrokes fill the room. Lynne Arriale’s rendition of “Here Comes the Sun” streams from her computer.
It is one of the many cover tunes on the UNF Jazz professor’s newest album, “Convergence,” to be released Feb. 8, with a melody that any Beatles fan can immediately distinguish.
And while the melody remains similar to that of the original, it is Arriale and her quartet of impressive musicians who improvise and create an entirely new and pleasurable resonance.
“Convergence” blends together a mixture of standards and originals, with melodies written by Arriale who believes them to be the most important part of the song.
“Melodies reach people. It’s what they remember about the song. It’s the melody that stays.”
Arriale said while her original songs and melodies shine throughout the album, it is the standards that attract and lure in a broader audience.
“The cover songs are so familiar, yet I want to shine a different light on the tune by adding my own interpretation,” Arriale said.
The title, “Convergence,” fits the style and feel of the songs and instruments. Arriale added a new instrument called an oud, a fret-less Middle Eastern string instrument that is shaped like a guitar and has 11 strings.
Omer Avital, Anthony Pinciotti and Bill McHenry join Arriale on the album. Avital plays the bass and the oud, Pinciotti plays the drums and McHenry plays the tenor sax.
“This album has more of a worldly influence to it,” Arriale said. “It’s Middle Eastern and Celtic. It’s an entirely different project all together.”
Arriale said an audience can tell when the group is tuned into one another.
“What happens between musicians when performing is a deep level of unspoken trust as well as deep listening,” she said.
Writing an album takes several months and tedious hours of practice, but Arriale manages to find a balance between her personal work and her students.
“It’s a great challenge because I am devoted to my students but have to find hours in the day to practice, too,” Arriale said. “The students make me think in a different way. They inspire me.”
And her students agree the inspiration goes both ways.
“Having a professor with such an established career gives me a unique and valuable perspective from someone with a lot of knowledge under her belt,” said Kevin Maddox, who is taking three classes with Arriale this semester. “Often she will draw from her own experiences to help us with our techniques.”
Maddox said he saw Arriale perform live in Miami long before deciding to attend UNF, and it was her undeniable talent that lead him to apply.
“At a bigger university, I may have never gotten the opportunity to work with someone with such an established career,” Maddox said. “But here, I not only get Lynne as a professor, but I get to take a one-on-one class with her.”
Arriale has been playing piano since she was 4 years old and has won countless awards and honors but said she can’t choose just one rewarding experience.
“Every time a student has a realization about music, it’s rewarding,” she said. “My recent trip to South Africa was extremely rewarding, as well, because I got to hear my music being played by their symphony orchestra.”
Though “Convergence” has yet to be released, Arriale said she is already in the process of assembling her next piece and hopes to work with a jazz Big Band in Germany.
“The reason we play is very simply to connect with people,” Arriale said. “The most important thing to me in life, music, performing and teaching is connecting through sound and directly profound meeting of minds.”