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Fragile Beauty, No. 4: Reflection & 2019 Projects

As 2018 comes to a conclusion in a little over a month from today, I find myself looking back over the year. This year was all about my fourth album while living in New York City (my 8th overall), Connections. For me the compositions on this album really did take a new turn in my writing process. The compositions emphasized more folk-like melodies while my harmonic content, although following the same sources as my past writing, took on a more minimalistic approach overall. This music, I felt, breathed. It allowed for development to take place using a simpler, slower approach. In many ways I felt that my writing has begun to amove towards a sense of maturity.

This project was two years in the making starting with the first three pieces on the album, my Music for Dance in Three Movements (for Laura). This piece was written as a gift to my wife, Laura for our 25th wedding anniversary on June 9, 2018. I have so many people to thank for their assistance in making this a reality. The musicians Hyuna Park, Luca Rosenfeld and Gary Fogel. Luba Ash who did the choreography, Andre Vasquez for his lighting and Dexter Buell for his direction in filming the project and in editing the three camera shoot. I would also like to thank Gideon Frankel, Principal of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts for use of the Tony Bennett Concert Hall and to the current and former students who assisted us on December 9, 2017 during the filming of the dance suite.

The middle three compositions were written based on a series of paintings by the Norwegian Artist AK Dolven that I call Please Return from the retrospective book on her art. It featured Jordan Young, Harry Miller, Luca Rosenfeld and Misia Vessio. And the final five movement suite was based on the poetry of the Norwegian poet, Eldrid Lunden from her 2003 collection, The Flock and the Shadow. I had some wonderful musicians with me that included Jordan Young, Sean Moran, Harry Miller, Evan Lawrence, Misia Vessio and Rosedeli Marte. And I am very thankful to Anja-Christin Nielsen for her recitation of the poems in the original Norwegian language. Of course, should you want to learn more about my inspiration for this project, you can always go to the Projects tab of my website to read the liner notes where you can also see the artwork by AK Dolven, read the translation to the poetry by Eldrid Lunden and see the video of the Music for Dance.

I would also like to thank Peter Karl who did an amazing job engineering this project. He really captured the sound that I was looking for, especially the sound of my own horn. Peter also mixed the entire project allowing one composition to flow into the next creating what I had hoped would be a full 11 movement suite, the Connections Suite. 

So now what's next? Looking forward to 2019 I felt like I wanted to present two contrasting composition styles. The first is a four movement suite called the Seasons. It is based on the series of paintings by Cy Twombly called the Four Seasons and for me it is an examination on the cycle of life and the passage of time. I was looking to see how minimal my writing could become, so these four pieces are written for solo trumpet with a prepared setting in GarageBand. The approach goes back to my Suite for Jazz Quintet written in 1986 and has an ambient, electric feel with my horn as the one organic element. You can read more about this work here.

The second concurring project is probably the exact opposite of the Seasons suite. I will be presenting a series of compositions and arrangements for a 17 piece big band. I would like to thank James Rasmussen, director of the Jazz Police Big Band in Seattle, WA. for rehearsing, performing and recording five of my new charts. They are an elite band that I am proud to say that I was an original member from 1987 - 1990 when they recorded three of my earlier big band charts. I call this project, Touching the Past and you can read more about my history with big bands here. There is also some preliminary information on both the Seasons project and on the Jazz Police performances on the Home page of my website.

Each month starting in December 2018 through December 2019 I will be releasing both videos and audio recordings through my social media platforms. To get more information and to be the first to know when a new piece will be released on social media throughout 2019, you can sign up for my newsletter also on the Home page of my website.

 

 

Bill Stevens Artist, Composer, Educator

Itinerary

  • June 2, 2019
    Tomi Jazz, New York, NY
     
  • June 16, 2019
    Silvana, New York, NY
     
  • July 7, 2019
    Tomi Jazz, New York, NY
     

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