A New Order Groove (2009)

Inspired by the big band writing of Chuck Owen while attending the International Jazz Composers’s Symposium several years ago, I set out to compose a work that paid tribute to one of his compositions.  The Jazz Surge big band was so impressive that I picked up every CD his band had available at the conference. My choice of composition was “Mo Leids” which is a sequel to his earlier work “Lieds”. I guess my composition “A New Order Groove” could be subtitled “Much Mo’ Leids”.  Though I am not sure if Mr. Owen would agree.

This piece was written for Kansas City based trumpeter Clint Ashlock and his New Jazz Order Big Band. The opening of the piece begins very similar to “Mo’ Leids”.  The “New Order Groove” is a funky jazz-rock style and explores the intervallic aspects of the blues scale.  Half step, whole step and minor thirds are exploited to achieve flexible direction for my phrases.

Improvisation functions for texture, transitions and in the traditional featured solo and collective sections. Texturally, various soloists interact with melodic statements in the opening section in an unpredictable manner to keep the listeners focus constantly shifting.  My goal was to knock the listener off balance a bit and yet still engage them. After an extensive set up leading into the main theme, two traditional solo sections follow featuring the tenor sax and Clint on trumpet.

Click several times on the score to enlarge.

At letters T to X featured soloists introduced one at a time. A vamp drum solo is followed by a vamp bass and drum solo.  Letter V introduces the bari sax into the mix.  Within four bars slowly the band starts to respond to the soloists.  Over time each new voice improvising interacts with the others to additively increase the density of the texture.

At letter X a heavy demand is placed on the 1st tenor sax, bari sax, trumpet 3 and trombone 2 to create and hold a groove without the assistance of the rhythm section. From Y to BB, once through the alphabet it was time to double up on the rehearsal letters, the whole band eventually joins in with ever increasing lengthening and overlapping phrases slowly overtaking the soloists. Each soloist one at a time take their place back into the interactive layers of their section in the band.  The same approach happens earlier during the tenor sax solo when prodding interjections by the band eventually swallowed up the soloist.

Another example of textural development occurs during Clint’s solo. The solo starts with trumpet and rhythm section. Each section leading up to letter T slowly increases rhythmic activity and background figures continue to extend into longer sixteenth note phrases. By letter S the whole band is backing Clint with call and response phrases heard from soprano sax and Alto 2, fast moving lines in the tenor sax and trumpet 2, syncopated figures by the trombones with trumpet 3 and 4, and a bass line outlined by the bass, baritone sax and 4th trombone.

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