Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The photos here were snapped at last night's rehearsal of the Portland Jazz Composers' Ensemble. I contributed a new tune, "Et Tu, Tutu?", which will programmed in the group's February 17 show, to be held in tandem with the Portland Jazz Festival.
It's always fascinating for me to write something for a group other than the IJG. One of the assumptions I make about my own musical creativity is that it is highly dependent upon a specific context of players that I already know -- and the better I know them, the better music I can write. I really feel like my music arises from the social context of whatever band I'm in -- not from the isolation of my own head. This is why I've never been able to develop a career as a composer-for-hire (e.g., film scoring, or commercial music).
However, I do appreciate the challenge -- it comes up from time to time -- of stepping outside of the "comfort zone" of the IJG, just to see what happens, and what I can learn from that. So when Andrew Oliver (the co-leader of the PJCE) asked me to be part of the upcoming PCJE concert, of course I said yes. (It helped that the PCJE includes three now-veterans of the IJG, all great players and great people: Mary-Sue Tobin (alto / soprano sax), Mieke Bruggeman (bari sax), and Kevin Van Geem (drums).)
The PCJE has a slightly different configuration from the IJG -- more brass-heavy, for one thing, and with a greater focus on acoustic bass and a full rhythm section. So I was initially tempted to contribute a slightly revised version of "Sneaky Whispers," an older, more recognizably "jazzy" tune of mine that originally appeared on the Industrialjazzwerke album.
But ultimately I decided to offer up something new, something closer to where my head is at now. Thus "Et Tu, Tutu?" has all the hallmarks of the IJG circa 2009: simple melodies expressed through dense, layered arrangements; a strong groove; an electric bass part; a few tempo shifts; chanted words; a goofy title; some physical comedy. We'll see how it turns out, but in the meantime, I'm just honored that the players (heavy hitters all) were willing to give it an airing.
The other composers for this show are: Dan Duval, Ken Ollis, Kyle Williams, Sam Howard, and the aforementioned Andrew Oliver. Do yourself a favor and check their music out -- their tunes were all smokin'.