top of page

A Small Dream In Red

Innovative Voice and Saxophone Duo

Nora McCarthy - voice, composer, poet

Jorge Sylvester - alto saxophonist, composer, arranger

Booking - Contact

Thanks! Message sent.

“...McCarthy and Sylvester show the utmost respect for the formal elements of music while also possessing the daring to dissolve borders, making A Small Dream In Red an aural adventure of the highest order. "  Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz, NY  


Nora McCarthy and Jorge Sylvester perform under the name A Small Dream in Red, thereby acknowledging a deep affinity to the expressionist master Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), who painted the masterpiece, Small Dream In Red (kleiner traum in rot)  in 1925. The artistic pioneer’s quintessential goal was to achieve the unique immediacy of music in abstract visual form. Incredibly, Nora and Jorge have achieved, in their duo performances, an innovative form of musical expression comparable in impact to Kandinsky’s paintings, wherein each work reveals a self-contained world of content, form, improvisation, and—above all—balance.


Since their debut at the Knitting Factory in NYC on September 10, 2001, they have performed and conducted workshops in New York, Ohio; Montenegro; Austria; and, Panama.


In March, 2003, they recorded their first CD, A Small Dream In Red, a live performance captured at Cleveland State University at the Sundown Jazz Series. The CD, a compilation of original compositions and standards, garnered wonderful reviews and established them as one of the world’s most unique and innovative duos performing in this format and instrumentation.


Their new CD, In The Language of Dreams is a tribute to Ornette Coleman, master innovator of the free jazz movement and Wassily Kandinsky. It features original compositions, lyrics and poetry by McCarthy and Sylvester; interpretations of five Kandinsky’s paintings and two Ornette compositions. Homage is paid to the great Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker in “Dizzy Bird” the bebop original that opens the CD as well as to the poetic song stylist Abbey Lincoln with their beautiful transformation of her composition, “Caged Bird,” that is reverently paired with the Cat Stevens classic, “Morning Has Broken.” The music begins its departure subtly from bebop, to harmolodics to full out avant-garde expressionism with the compelling piece dedicated to the people of Japan, “Back to the One.”


For Nora McCarthy and Jorge Sylvester, there is no choice but to trust the gift of inspiration with the humility and care borne of craftsmanship and discipline, and to give authentic voice to the vital, microcosmic “Now!” at the core of artistic modernity. These artists’ work is truly deserving of notice and consideration, because it is work arising out of human necessity, not aesthetic preference. As a result of years of intensive collaboration, their hard-won synergy has enabled them to stake an honest claim to the modern artist’s highest ground—clarity of expression.


A Small Dream In Red is currently booking engagements for performances and workshops worldwide.


Composition "Dizzy Bird" by Jorge Sylvester

Poetry: Nora McCarthy-Sylvester

In The Language of Dreams CD #2
Yellow, Red, Blue - A Small Dream In Red
00:00 / 00:00
Morning Has Broken/Caged Bird - A Small Dream In Red
00:00 / 00:00
A Small Dream in Red CD #1
Afro Blue/My Romance - A Small Dream In Red
00:00 / 00:00
A Small Dream In Red  The James Joyce Project - An Excerpt from Finnegan's Wake.

“Welcome to the Museyroom” is an improvised interpretation of an excerpt of Finegan’s Wake, written by the brilliant Irish novelist, short story writer and poet, James Joyce who contributed to the modernist avant-garde movement and is regarded as one of the most influential and important writers of the 20th century.  McCarthy and Sylvester musically reflect Joyce's method of stream of consciousness writing, literary allusions and free dream associations


“…Most of all, McCarthy and Sylvester are dedicated to using art as a means to elevate and celebrate the human spirit; their music is about joy and creativity, and cultivating the finer aspects of the human soul.” Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz


“...McCarthy reinvents several all-time Jazz classics by scatting, singing, and intoning over the free improvisations pouring assertively from Sylvester's alto. McCarthy delivers with absolute clarity, adding engrossing touches to the melody lines but primarily constructing original versions of the tunes."  Cadence Magazine for Creative and Improvised Music


“...Nora McCarthy has a deep voice, with the timbre and range of Sarah Vaughan....she uses ever-so-subtle pitch-bending and straight tones and just a lovely touch of vibrato."  Julianne Carney,  International Society For Improvised Music


“...The duo of Nora McCarthy and Jorge Sylvester presents contrasting contours stepping into and out of dissonance, with hints of tunes weaving in and out, far more scat than lyric in the vocals, and saxophone is fluid, giving energy, direction and depth." International Society For Improvised Music, 2007  


“...It's delightful to hear music that plays so freely with the known and the unknown elements of jazz." All About Jazz Magazine, NY  


“...A superb, contemporary jazz duo that forges its own trail.  You can't sit back and say that she recalls this or that singer or that he recalls this or that alto saxophonist.  They're both soulful, dramatic and highly original in their intimate recitals, which include self-penned songs as well as several highly original interpretations.” Ramsey Ameen, musician, scholar, educator formerly with Cecil Taylor  


“...Nora McCarthy sings with an emphatic delivery.  She interprets lyrics with fits of passion and relaxes casually with wordless sprees." Carlo Wolfe, Cleveland Plain Dealer  


“...Alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester brings a character of virtuosity to the session, conversing with his musical partner in an equal balance of their two voices.  There's closeness in their duo performance that you don't find in some ensembles. " Jim Santella for Jazz Improv, NYC  


“...Dreamy musical interplay mixed with fitful segments of dramatic tension."  International Society For Improvised Music  


“...McCarthy uses her fluid delivery to jump effortlessly to the highest and lowest regions of her vocal range, while Sylvester follows her cues in empathy.  McCarthy's Miles Mind" carries a significant impression, as her voice recalls the frailty found in Davis' horn through the years."  All About Jazz  


“...The two artists combine intuition with a love for their music and it shows."  Jim Santella for Jazz Improv, NYC


“...McCarthy and Sylvester show the utmost respect for the formal elements of music while also possessing the daring to dissolve borders, making A Small Dream In Red an aural adventure of the highest order. "  Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz, NY  


“... McCarthy's voice stretches and soars and whether she's singing straight ahead, scatting, or simply vocalizing, her voice rings true and clear.  Sylvester has a gorgeous tone and a sure touch, plus a wonderful ability to weave in and out of melodies."   All About Jazz, NY


“...Sylvester coats the pathways McCarthy carves with freelanced and fully open interpretations of the tunes, hitting high and low notes in juxtaposition or in contrast with the vocals."  Cadence Magazine for Creative Improvised Music

bottom of page