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Conversation with Chet - Interview
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Conversation with Chet - audio excerpt.mp3

Conversation with Chet - programme notes (Word Document 'doc')

Conversation with Chet - programme notes (Word Rich Text File 'rtf')

Concert

CONVERSATION WITH CHET - for solo trumpet and symphony orchestra


Commissioned by Sir Roger Norrington and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra

A commission by the SWR orchestra to mark their conductor, Sir Roger Norrington’s 70th birthday.

First performances:
Liederhalle, Stuttgart, Germany 10,11,12 March 2004
Trumpet: Alison Balsom
Conductor: Sir Roger Norrington
Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra of SWR

Konzerthaus, Vienna, Austria 17 March 2004
Trumpet: Alison Balsom
Conductor: Sir Roger Norrington
Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra of SWR

Duration: 21 minutes

Based, amongst other things, on a reflection of the lyricism and sometime inspirational melodic genius in improvisation of the jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. Part of the focus in conceiving the piece was to try and identify/ give a representation of what might have happened had our two minds crossed. Vibes feature strongly as a second melodic voice in the work.

I also honed in on my inner self – I was aware that when Baker’s music making was at its’ best, it was often when he had musically given himself time or space for contemplation – to the point that if he was improvising at a fast tempo, and couldn’t come up with a musical phrase that was melodically to his satisfaction, he would just stop momentarily, until his brain had caught up, and he was ready for the next piece of the musical jigsaw to slot in, then take-off again. As a result, some parts of the work, including the heart of the piece two thirds of the way through, are born through instinct, contemplative in the way they are conceived and fairly economic in the manner of orchestration they employ.

Having talked at some length with Roger about his life, musical loves and ideals, and what I came to understand about his resilience in surmounting his long-term illness, there are also various musical references throughout the work which stem from these conversations. One area of interest relevant to the work was the part-writing of Bach, revered by musicians of all genres, but particularly many jazz artists, as the master of invention and counterpoint, and thereby the root of much improvisation.

There was a conscious use of a harmonic language which has direct parallels with modern jazz harmonies, as is the case with so many contemporary works which to most listeners would apparently have no connection with the jazz idiom – the two are, after all, intertwined (a fact peculiarly still not recognised by many of the straighter-laced members of the musical establishment). It was also important for me to question the cocoon or straight-jacket that many classical musicians have been detrimentally brought up to live within - with the result that many are petrified by or sometimes even incapable of, improvisation, spontaneous invention or real inventive music-making. I was very limited in how far I could go in this respect, but it's an area I wish to further explore in the future.

To read complete programme notes download the file opposite. For further thoughts on the piece, you can watch the Quicktime clip from an interview with film director Barrie Gavin about the work (below).

Conversation with Chet - audio excerpt - click to enlarge

Conversation with Chet - audio excerpt

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Conversation with Chet - video clip 1 - click to enlarge

Conversation with Chet - video clip 1

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Conversation with Chet - video clip 2 - click to enlarge

Conversation with Chet - video clip 2

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Conversation with Chet - video clip 3 - click to enlarge

Conversation with Chet - video clip 3

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Conversation with Chet - Interview  - click to enlarge

Conversation with Chet - Interview

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Programme notes

To read full programme notes in Wod 'doc or Word 'rtf' format click below

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