Kumiko Shimizu, piano
Bret Pimentel, woodwinds
Delta State University Department of Music
Recital Hall, Bologna Performing Arts Center
Thursday, September 13, 2012
from Suite for Flute and Piano
Claude Bolling (b. 1930)
I. Baroque and Blue
from Four Personalities for Oboe and Piano
Alyssa Morris (b. 1984)
Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
John Coltrane (1926-1967), arranged by Bret Pimentel
Bill Evans (1929-1980), transcribed by Brent Edstrom
Fuzzy Bird Sonata
Takashi Yoshimatsu (b. 1953)
1. Run, bird
2. Sing, bird
3. Fly, bird
Keri Degg (b. 1975)
by Kumiko Shimizu and Bret Pimentel
Suite for Flute and Piano
Claude Bolling is a French composer, arranger, jazz pianist, band leader, and orchestra conductor. This suite exemplifies his success at juxtaposing classical and jazz styles. It consists of seven contrasting movements. Today’s program presents movements I, V, and VII. The movements I and V have improvisatory (spontaneously composed) sections in the piano part, where the pianist can choose to play as written or to improvise. The suite was written in 1973 and was recorded in 1975.
“White” and “Yellow” from Four Personalities for oboe and piano
The Hartman Personality Profile is a method of classifying personality types, described in Taylor Hartman’s book The Color Code, first published commercially in 1998. Alyssa Morris’s 2007 piece “Four Personalities” is a musical expression of Hartman’s four types: Yellow, White, Blue, and Red. The movements presented here, White and Yellow, use melodic and harmonic language borrowed from jazz. The composer summarizes these two personality types:
“White is a peacekeeper. White is kind, adaptable, and a good listener. Though motivated by peace, White struggles with indecisiveness.
“Yellow is fun loving. The joy that comes from doing something just for the sake of doing it is what motivates and drives Yellow.”
Three Pieces for clarinet solo
Popular legend would have us believe that Igor Stravinsky wrote his Three Pieces after hearing the great New Orleans early jazz clarinetist Sidney Bechet perform in Europe, basing the pieces on the freedom and style of Bechet’s ad-libbed warm-up. Historical scholarship does not support this story, but it is clear that Stravinsky was influenced by ragtime and perhaps other early jazz styles. The Three Pieces do exhibit syncopated rhythms and and emphasis on instrumental virtuosity, which are characteristic of but not unique to the jazz tradition. Stravinsky also uses rapidly changing meters and even a fully un-metered second movement, which are often mistakenly used by composers to evoke jazz (in reality, most jazz uses meters that are quite strict, though sometimes obscured). Stravinsky calls for the soloist to use two clarinets, one in the key of B-flat and one in the key of A; there is much disagreement among clarinetists and critics as to whether the difference in sound between the two instruments is really distinguishable to the ear.
This haunting jazz ballad is a staple of the jazz repertoire. It was written by John Coltrane, one of the most influential of jazz saxophonists and composers, and first released on his seminal 1959 album Giant Steps. The title “Naima” refers to Juanita Naima Grubbs, Coltrane’s first wife.
Bill Evans was one of the most important jazz pianists. Peace Piece, recorded on the album Everybody Digs Bill Evans in 1958, was born of what Evans was trying to create as an introduction to “Some Other Time” from the musical On the Town by Leonard Bernstein in a recording studio. However, there is a controversy about the origin of the composition: according to Evans’s theory teacher at Southeastern Louisiana University, Evans created it as a student for a written out homework composition. In any case, the final product is this beautiful piano piece, which almost allows us to forget time. The natural flow of melody, the musical development, and harmonic language make it incredible musical architecture. Today’s performance follows a tradition in jazz education of studying and performing from transcriptions (written out scores of music originally improvised by great jazz musicians).
Fuzzy Bird Sonata
This sonata was written for one of the most distinguished Japanese saxophonists, Nobuya Sugawa, in 1991. “Fuzzy Bird”, as translated from Japanese, suggests a bird floats freely between the three styles of music: classical, jazz, and ethnic, as though the boundaries are blurred or fuzzy. Reflecting the image of the bird, the composer uses a variety of musical materials without strictness.
In the first movement the time signature changes frequently, as if portraying the natural movement of the bird’s running. The second movement allows the saxophone to sing the melody “freely,” while the piano provides an improvisatory effect in the right hand over ostinato (a repeated phrase or rhythm) in the left hand. The ostinato and improvisatory elements continue in the third movement. Around the middle point of the movement, both instrumentalists simultaneously improvise a cadenza.
Born in Tokyo, the composer studied in the engineering department of Keio University and mainly taught himself composition, while performing in several jazz and rock groups. He objects to the “unmusical” character prevalent in “modern music” and composes with tonality and melody. He has been Composer in Residence of Chandos Records since 1998 and all of his orchestra works have been recorded on that label.
This recent composition by British composer and saxophonist Keri Degg draws influences from the hybrid “smooth” pop/jazz instrumental style associated with saxophonists such as Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, and Kenny “G” Gorelick, and keyboardists such as Joe Sample and Bob James. Despite the commercial success of musicians performing in this style, or perhaps because of that success, “smooth” jazz artists are sometimes regarded by jazz musicians and critics as non-jazz.