for solo trp, fl, ob, cl, bcl, hn, trb,
2 perc, strings (126.96.36.199.1)
duration: 8 minutes
Like Miles was inspired by a performance
by the Britten Sinfonia of some the Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaborations
with Guy Barker on trumpet. It started as a gathering of fragments from
the solos of Miles Davis to be transmuted and used as motivic material
in a trumpet concerto. The material was then utilised for the parts of
the soloist and orchestra as both rhythmic and melodic cells. The idea
being to combine a Miles Davis inspired trumpet line floating above the
orchestra, which must maintain a forward impetus and metricality to contrast
with the freer nature of the trumpet part, not unlike the role of a rhythm
section in small group jazz. The orchestral part comments, opposes, or
wraps itself around the soloist, but always creates the ground pulse and
occasional tonal centricity necessary to allow a soloist to create gestures
toying with the listener's expectations such devices might raise.
The soloist should approach the piece in the spirit from which it has
been derived, not so much striving for purity of tone as for the vocal,
almost conversational style which characterises the immediately recognisable
personal sound that any jazz soloist has. This being the admitting of
the gestural: mutters, fluffs, sudden accents, unexpected jokes, bends
and sudden show-boating that would take place in a relaxed conversation
between friends. (This could be enhanced by lightly amplifying the soloist,
especially when muted.)
Much of this, it is hoped, can be the responsibility of the soloist. No
jazz player, especially Miles, would play things as written or even the
same way twice. The written score could be considered merely a starting
point, and the soloist is encouraged to improvise and/or embellish within
their part if they so wish. The piece was written to also include the
possibility of modifying sections to leave them completely open for a
soloist, merely suggesting a few chord formations or melodic fragments
to use to mesh (or not) with the underlying accompaniment.
After 10 years doing weddings, barmitzvahs and Blues tours of Germany
in the back of transit vans as a jobbing jazz saxophonist, my moment of
epiphany occurred one swelteringly hot night in the 100 Club on Oxford
street about 12 years ago. As a member of the group stopped the music
in mid-flow to have a major physical altercation with the sound engineer
in the middle of a gig, my mind drifted towards thoughts of perhaps pursuing
a music degree in a part-time program at Goldsmiths I had heard about.
There had to be a better way.
I was born in Lowell, Massachusetts and came to the U.K. in the mid-80s
with my British wife after having worked as a jazz musician around New
England. Along with playing and recording around the London jazz scene
of the time, I also picked up some part-time lecturing at what is now
APU in Cambridge running the jazz elements of their degree program, where
I still work. While doing this, I studied part-time for a degree at Goldsmiths.
A few years after completing that, I began a Masters in composition with
Richard Hoadley at APU, which was finished earlier this year.
The move from jazz to composition is a very recent one, and I hope to
explore cross-fertilisation between the two genres. Apart from jazz, my
influences would include Stravinsky, Ives, Cage, Lou Harrison, Varese,
Takemitsu, Birtwitsle, Lutoslawski, and the Johns Adams and Zorn.
I am currently working with my own jazz quartet, which has released two
CDs in the past couple of years. We are working on a third this year of
jazz settings of Beat poets.
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