Little big band - Difficult
Arranged by Chuck Israels. Swing, Jazz. Score and parts. Published by Jazz Lines Publications (JL.JLP-7450).
Bill Evans's music is widely appreciated for its nuance and beauty, for its sophisticated harmonic language, and for the extraordinary gradations of touch in his piano playing. All of these are highly developed in his music, but each of them can be heard to some degree in music that precedes Bill's. There are superb classical pianists whose touch rivals his, a rich history of piano music that includes other characteristics of his music, and wonderful examples of creative and expressive jazz piano playing. But there is one feature of Bill Evans's music that is nearly unique and usually overlooked; its unparalleled rhythmic variety and invention. Immersion in this music was the richest experience of my bass playing life. As a composer/arranger, I have taken what I understand from Bill's aesthetic system, the balanced qualities that made it so rewarding to hear and to play, and included those elements in my writing in every way I could. Playing an accompanying role while Bill played those extraordinary rhythms was relatively easy, since his execution was rock solid and independent of his surroundings. His consistently reliable control of those complex cross rhythms against a deeply felt pulse made it possible to participate in the music with an intuitive understanding of how they related to the more usual rhythms I could create without fully understanding how complex and sophisticated they were. Notating them so that others can experience how it feels to perform them has been at the same time a more daunting and an illuminating process. These rhythms have informed all of my music, but they are especially prominent in these interpretations of pieces on which Bill has left his indelible stamp. They are difficult to read, but not impossible to play, and they are an unending source of inspiration and out and out fun. This I Got Rhythm paraphrase piece contains a compendium of Bill Evans's unusual and complex rhythms. The introduction has three layers of rhythm; dotted quarters in the bass, straight 4/4 in the drums and unusual syncopations in the piano - ending in a two measure figure made up of syncopated dotted eighths and quarters. And that's just the introduction. The A sections are built on 5 against 4 figures and the bridge melody is 4 against 3 cleverly lined up to create conflict and resolution over eight measures. The blowing changes start with a familiar set of dominant 7th cycle substitute chords and one inserted half step embellishment in the bridge. Then there is an interesting and subtle variation on the first A section cycle in the last eight measures where the cycle starts in a different place. An interesting aspect of music like this is that the soloist is free to follow these changes rigorously, or to ignore some (or all) of them and simply play normal I Got Rhythm harmonies and let the substitute chords produce dissonance and resolution over the eight measure phrase. The ensembles produce fireworks. This is a stunning pice and it is a joy to play. -Chuck Israels
Instrumentation: Full Score, Alto Saxophone, Clarinet/Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Guitar, Piano, Bass, Drums.