Bill Stevens

Harmonic Explorations III

When I began the initial idea of presenting a three part series of concerts focusing on Jazz Modal Harmony I began first by reviewing my notes from my composition classes while at the University of Miami (1979 - 1980) with Ron Miller. Additionally, I also read and studied Ron's two volumes called "Modal Jazz Composition and Harmony". I owe a tremendous debt to Ron who opened me up to so much and over the last 30+ years it is clear that his influence can be found in many of my compositions. I have dedicated this series of concerts to Ron Miller. From Ron's teachings I felt a pull to study the extended concepts that I was hearing from David Liebman. I attended and watched video links to his master classes, I analysed his compositions and eventually studied his book, "A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony and Melody".

This became the foundation for the first two Harmonic Explorations concerts. In Harmonic Explorations I, I studied Ron's concepts of using alternate source scales such as Harmonic Minor, Harmonic Major, Melodic Minor and Melodic Minor #5. The launching point of this music came from the ballads and medium tempo compositions as performed on the studio recordings by the second great Miles Davis Quintet, the music of Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Herbie Hancock. In Harmonic Explorations II, my goal was to create settings in a chromatic style both in composition and improvisation. I wrote pieces that used the four concepts as taught by David Liebman: triadic, wide intervals, clusters and Perfect 4th's & 5th's. Additionally, this music brought me to utilize orchestral compositional techniques from John Cage (sound moving in and out of silence), Arvo Part (Tintinnabuli - Little Bells) and Arnold Schoenberg (melodic content based on a tone row).  

Finally, what I found interesting was how both Ron Miller and David Liebman look to conclude their course of study by examining re-imagined standards. This can be looked at in a number of ways as rehamonizing the original melody, maintaining the essence of the original melody while again reharmonizing the chord changes and creating an entirely new composition by maintaining elements of the original. This is what we will be presenting at the upcoming Harmonic Explorations III concert on Thursday, December 14, 2017, 7:30pm at the historic 5C Cafe & Cultural Center (68 Avenue C at E 5th Street):

D.O.S. - a new composition based on Dear Old Stockholm. The distinctive bass line remains, as does the root centers; however there is a new melody and three extended modal harmonic centers (D Phrygian, F Aeolian and C Lydian)

Yesterdays - the essence of the Jerome Kern melody remains; however with new Jazz modal harmony incorporated

I Thought About You - The melody remains (except for one note, can you find it?) with once again new Jazz modal harmony incorporated

Included in this set, aside from my three arrangements, we will perform two of Ron's re-imagined standards: Beautiful Love (new harmony to the original melody) and Green Street (a new composition based on Green Dolphin Street).

I am thrilled to announce that joining me for this third concert will once again be Richard Philbin on tenor sax, Harry Miller on piano, Luca Rosenfeld on upright bass and on drums, Gary Fogel. And once again, for the second set we will present the Luca Rosenfeld Trio with Elias Stemeseder on piano and Billy Mintz on drums. I hope that you will put the date on your calendar and consider joining us for this special evening as we conclude the Harmonic Explorations series.