June 21, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.
WBGO says farewell to NEA Jazz Master Gunther Schuller, who died today at age 89. The composer sought to combine jazz and classical music in his seventy-year career, and coined the phrase "Third Stream" to describe this style.
In 2008, he was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation's highest honor for jazz musicians and advocates. WBGO's Rhonda Hamilton was on hand for the occasion, and we'd like to share their memorable conversation with you again now.
Thank you, Gunther, and rest in peace!
Schuller began his career as a French horn player in the early forties, and recorded with trumpeter Miles Davis and other jazz musicians while also principal hornist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman were among the jazz artists whose works he championed at this time.
In 1959, he left performance to concentrate on scholarship and composition. He served as president of the New England Conservatory for twenty years, and as artistic director for the Tanglewood Music Center for fourteen. His two volumes on "Early Jazz" and "The Swing Era" are foundational texts of jazz musicology.
© 2015 WBGO
January 15, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Each year, IAJE and the Herb Alpert Foundation award the esteemed Gil Evans Commission, honoring an emerging jazz composer. In addition to a modest fellowship, the honoree receives an all-expense paid trip to the IAJE conference to showcase the work. Past winners include Maria Schneider and John Hollenbeck.
This years winner is Wil Swindler, a Denver-based saxophonist and composer. Swinder brought presented his commissioned work, "Glass," featuring his Elevenet. They are - Wil Swindler (Alto Saxophone), Peter Sommer (Tenor Saxophone), Art Bouton (Alto Flute), April Johannesen (Bass Clarinet), Al Hood, Clay Jenkins (Trumpets), Jason Johnston (French Horn), Dave Stamps (Trombone), Gary Mayne (Tuba), Dana Landry (Piano), Erik Applegate (Bass), Jim White (Drums).
I asked Wil to describe the ideas behind his composition. Here's what he said:
This piece is composed on a four-note melodic cell transposed by major thirds to create a 12-note collection out of which the melodic and much of the harmonic material presents itself. It passes through a variety of time signatures and rhythmic feels, never straying from the four note cell and its derivative motives. Keep an ear out for the use of ensemble interjections during the alto solo - it is an acoustic representation of how a soloist might use a harmonization pedal to supplement some improvised lines.
Check out an audience recording of "Glass":
Wil Swindler Elevenet - Glass
© 2008 WBGO