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Composed: 2009 Duration: 6 mins.
Instrumentation: Sax Quartet SATB Level D
ISMN: 979-0-720119-94-6 Catalogue: RM537
Level: D Country: Australia
The Treacherous Tango was composed for principal flautist of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Janet Webb. In July 2002 I was invited to perform the Artie Shaw Concerto for Clarinet at the Sydney Opera House for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s “Swing in to spring” series. Whilst waiting in the wings backstage, Janet asked me if we could meet up for a talk sometime about jazz and Latin styles. A few weeks later after hearing Janet play, I began sketching “Treacherous Tango” for her wonderful CD “Tango and all that Jazz”.
The Treacherous Tango is in essence a cross-over piece in that it is never fully Latin, jazz or classical for any significant amount of time. The first section is a kind of “Bach goes Latin”. This then heats up a bit and changes in to an improvised solo section. The piano gradually drops out and leaves the soloist merrily grooving away over the feel. Realising that they are now completely venerable and on their own, the soloist becomes a little embarrassed and sheepishly fades out all the while tring to coax the piano back into the “game”. Finally the soloist gives up trying and instead, decides to launch in to a rollercoaster passage that the piano, (not wanting to be out done) effortlessly mimics but in octaves. Both then launch into a fiery Latin pattern that re-energizes the Latin feel once more.
The romantic section that follows, brings a little of “Spain” to the feel before both instruments frolic through a dual-time feel section that is a walking bass four feel in the left-hand of the piano against a turblent three feel in the solo part and right-hand of the piano. This culminates in both instruments swinging over a very short slow swing four-feel passage. The soloist then decides to try a bit of “improvisation” and takes-off over this feel once again. Shortly following this, the piano flies into a fiendishly difficult Latin styled solo with the soloist following closely behind.
After the soloist blazes its way through another “improvised” solo, the first and second themes return with vengeance and lead to a musical frenzy of furiously flying accelerando passages that end with a fluter tongued trill. Then with one final short argument and a rapid triplet outburst, it’s all over. Phew!
It’s quite a blow for anybody so when you do get to the end take time to praise yourself and your partner in crime at the piano for a great effort!
Flying Colours made its first appearance as a concerto for alto saxophone and concert band. Conducted by Captain Brian O. Walden, the work received its world premiere performance on 7th January, 2011 at the 34th International Saxophone Symposium, Washington DC, USA, with Barry Cockcroft as featured soloist with the United States Navy Band.
At Barry’s request, I arranged the concerto for alto saxophone and piano for performance at the 2011 Australian Clarinet & Saxophone Festival, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
The title of the work is intended to suggest the rapid, free-flowing and often highly chromatic melodies played by the saxophone soloist. The title also reveals something of the inspiration behind the music and my current fascination with all things nautical.
Flying Colours commences with music of a bright and vigorous nature. The strong pulse heard at the introduction is maintained and serves to drive the narrative of the whole work. Weaving in and around the band / piano part, the soloist’s florid melodic lines are composed of ordered, balanced phrases. This is in keeping with the ‘crazy logic’ style of some of my previous works for saxophone in which ‘crazy’ melodic intervals are shaped into ‘logical’ or symmetrical sentences.
I warmly thank Barry Cockcroft and the United States Navy Band for giving the world premiere performance of the work, and also warmly thank Barry Cockcroft and Adam Pinto (rompduo) for their premiere performance of the sax and piano score.
This lovely, slightly jazzy lullaby in the French style is perfect for students seeking a pleasing slow piece for recital or private study. The melody derives from my unpublished song setting of the poem "Let Evening Come" by Jane Kenyon, reworked and adapted for saxophone. The music resonantes with the tone of tender acceptance in Kenyon's poem, with a few spikes and harmonic twists reminiscent of Poulenc.
Performed by Janet Webb (flute) & Jocelyn Edey Fazzone (piano)
Tycho, Tycho, Tycho is dedicated to my dear friend and mentor Maestro Tommy Tycho. Tommy has spent 60 years working in Australia as a composer, arranger, pianist and conductor. Not only is he one of the finest arrangers and orchestrators on the scene today but he is also a mentor and role model for hundreds of Australian musicians and students.
Tycho, Tycho, Tycho was inspired by the tune Tico, Tico and apart from the fact that it makes a fun little play on Tommy’s name, it is also very much how I perceive the great Maestro’s spirit to be.
The first theme carries within it the feel of the original Tico, Tico but the melody is of course completely different and much more difficult to perform at the recommended tempo. The student is advised to work through each difficult passage slowly and carefully by focusing on the threads of logical thought that bind them together.
It is important however not to allow the feel of the work to bog down or become too precise and sterile as there must always be an air of ease and fun throughout, even if you feel as though your fingers just dropped off of your hand. It should be performed at the liveliest tempo that the performer can manage and remember to shout as loud as you can in the Hey! at bar 103 and then come back in when you’re ready to.
Tycho, Tycho,Tycho is quite a challenge but it’s a lot of fun when you finally get it all together.
Contents: A Little Irish Waltz for Tree Fellas Part 1, A Little Irish Waltz for Tree Fellas Part 2, A Little Irish Waltz for Tree Fellas Part 3, An Outbreak of Syncopation, Dancing With a Spanish Chook, Filthy Dirty Socks, Eve's Family, Half Dozen of the Other, Thong Lake, Hot Polka, I Feel OK, Kangaroo, Not, Another Show Tune, Notes Art, Sort of Blues, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Swine Flue, Swingaringarosie, Swingaringarosie 2, The Wooden Leg March, Try it a Bit Faster