“Monsters of Clarinet” highlights the music of three clarinet monsters: Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Jeff Brooks. Each of these clarinetists found a new way to use the instrument and have added repertoire that instill those innovations. Featuring the clarinet with jazz trio and symphony orchestra this show’s original arrangements cross over between classical, jazz, and a touch of the Iranian musical tradition. Jeff is supported by side man Dan Taylor at the piano who consistently plays intriguing and exciting improvised solos and an all-star drummer and bass player who are from your local community. The music of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw has been in Jeff’s ears practically since birth. Being a third generation clarinetist, he developed a strong love for the music of Goodman and Shaw and that is certainly one inspiration for this performance. Some of the music is composed or arranged by Brooks and Mark Thome did an incredible job creating intriguing arrangements and orchestrating Jeff’s musical ideas. Benny Goodman was well known jazz artist but he was also a pioneering crossover artist. He used classical themes, such as a violin caprice by Paganini, and convert them into jazz tunes. Goodman inspired or commissioned dozens of classical compositions that have become staples in the clarinet repertoire. This includes Aaron Copland’s sublime Concerto for Clarinet. The show begins with focus on the famous Goodman tune Let’s Dance. This tune originates from Weber’s Invitation to the Dance (1819) for solo piano which was dedicated to his newly married wife Caroline to whom he had been married only a few months. Hector Berlioz later orchestrated the work in 1841 and this is the version that Goodman most likely heard first. This arrangement fuses Invitation to the Dance and Let’s Dance using crossover sensibilities all while paying respect to the authenticity of the aforementioned visions. Clarinet a La King is a popular Goodman tune presented in a mostly straight forward swing version with some interjected classical feels and soon after is the crossover version of the Courante from Bach’s First Cello Suite played on a bass clarinet. This incredibly unique arrangement features a reinvention of Bach’s music with newly composed Bach invention like sections and an innovative way of crossing classical and jazz music, improvising in the classical style over a tradition jazz form. Arranger Mark Thome really nailed it with this arrangement. Sweet Anticipation is a bass clarinet jazz ballad composed by Jeff Brooks. The luscious chords and gripping melody were transformed in to a breathtaking arrangement for orchestra featuring a reduced solo wind section. Listen for this work’s stunning improvised solos from Dan Taylor on the piano and the haunting vocal quality of Jeff’s bass clarinet. A set of music dedicated to Artie Shaw begins with Frenesi, is followed by the ever popular Begin the Beguine, and concludes with Shaw’s Concerto for Clarinet. So what’s crossover about the treatment of these tunes? Actually not a lot, for Frenesi and Begin the Beguine are reminiscient of Artie Shaw’s recordings. Not much needed to be added to make these tunes somewhat crossover. Artie Shaw was a forward thinker and often included a string section with his big band, thus combining two worlds. Shaw was definitely starting to bridge the gap between classical and jazz and he even used a classical title for a jazz composition; Concerto for Clarinet. Along with Beguine the Begin, Shaw’s Concerto for Clarinet was popular during his lifetime and is still performed often today. The Concerto uses boogie-woogie blues, clarinet and tom-tom interludes, and a lick that will stick in the listener’s ear through the intermission, all book ended by virtuosic cadenzas for the clarinet soloist and ending on the legendary altissimo high C. The Concerto for Clarinet is a staple played by most clarinetists, thus making jazz playing more accessible to classical clarinetists. Shaw improvised much of the concerto when he performed it, but composed a notated part so that it would be performed by other clarinetists. Jeff will stay true to Shaw’s original vision by improvising in the same sections as Shaw. Artie Shaw’s Jazz Clarinet Concerto and Aaron Copeland’s Concerto for Clarinet were one inspiration for John Diaz’s new concerto for jazz quartet and orchestra. After being involved on other original music projects Diaz and Brooks decided to collaborate on the new American concerto for clarinet, jazz trio, and symphony orchestra, ClarinetMonsteR. This work is presented in four movements that span an evolution of music from blues, to songbook, to meditative free jazz, to bebop. This twenty- minute work is truly innovative and is a stand alone composition that could be presented on any symphony program. Metzger’s Goodbye was written in memory of Jeff’s grandfather jazz clarinetist and saxophonist, Harvey Brooks. Harvey was a little younger than Goodman and played in a navy big band stationed in Guam during World War Two, later becoming an influential high school band director in the Northwest. While growing up, Jeff was inspired by his grandfather’s recordings and even had the fortune of playing with him a little at a young age. David Metzger was one of Harvey’s high school band students and composed this work for performance at a concert in Harvey’s memory. The clarinet soloist for that performance was Jeff’s dad, Joseph. The main theme from the first movement of Mozart’s Fortieth Symphonyhas been altered to reflect a more laidback approach to Mozart’s music. There is an energetic Latin groove under the melody and one of Mozart’s orchestral counter melodies remains. This arrangement doesn’t transition between styles; it mixes styles by juxtaposing a classical melody over jazz chords while using a Latin jazz style. The Radif and Spanicopida are played as one continuous piece. Both are inspired by traditional Iranian and Greek melodies and rhythms. Experienced by a solo clarinet, the Radif is a meditative spiritual form of music comprised of traditional Iranian melodies. It is intended to take the music to a new level of consciousness before flowing seamlessly into Spanicopida. The driving 10/8 rhythms are based on an Iranian and Greek rhythmic modes. Spanicopida is a made up grouping of letters, not to be confused with the greek food spanikopita. Although it does not have a meaning it can be said over the 3+3+2+2 rhythm as a mantra. Spa-na-na/Spa-na-na/Co-pi/daa, Spa-na-na/Spa-na- na/Co-pi/daa. See if you can be a part of this experience by repeating the mantra over and over as the music takes you to the next level of consciousness.
NOTES FROM ARRANGER, MARK THOME:
“For me, as an arranger, my involvement with ClarinetMonsteR was a dream project. It was an opportunity to work with jazz and classical (as well as other styles) while paying tribute to two legendary clarinetists of the big band era, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. My goal when writing these arrangements was to treat the instruments of the orchestra with the same importance as the brass and saxophone sections of the big band and to provide a fresh take on the tunes by these clarinet masters while maintaining the essence of what made them so great and popular. In addition to the hits of Goodman and Shaw, I made several arrangements of Jeff Brooks’ own compositions and adaptations of Bach and Mozart. Jeff’s music and extraordinary playing are further evidence of the influence of Goodman and Shaw and keeping alive the wonderful sounds of the jazz clarinet. Jazz, latin, baroque, classical, big band, symphony orchestra; pinch me, but don’t wake me up.” – Mark Thome
NOTES FROM COMPOSER, JOHN DIAZ-CORTEZClarinet Monster: a Concerto for Clarinet and Jazz Trio by John A. Díaz-Cortés commissioned by Jeff Brooks I. In the Beginning… (5.22) II. Where to From Here? (4.25) III. Contemplation I (3.00) IV. Are We There Yet? (7.25) As a composer immensely influenced by the oeuvre of Duke Ellington, I have always resonated with the idea of writing with a soloist in mind. Thus, when the opportunity arose to work on a clarinet concerto for a musician who I greatly admire, I began crafting the work at hand. As an American clarinetist, Jeff Brooks has worked diligently to incorporate the sounds of American art and popular music within his study of the Western classical canon. Writing with Brooks in mind, I have worked to construct a concerto that blends the aesthetic and formal qualities of Jazz and American popular music with the timbres and textures of the symphony orchestra. Although the work at hand has been written with Brooks in mind, it like all of my work, has been composed as a reflection of my existential situation and process. I began writing this concerto as I bid farewell to the relative security of the academy and set about on the task of identifying and finding my place on this floating mass of earth. Therefore, each movement found within this concerto may be viewed as a postcard mailed along the way. Each postcard contains a vignette; one that provides a glimpse into the lessons learned. In the Beginning… We begin with a piece that is blues-inspired in form and constructed around a bass groove first presented early on. Its melody points to the uncertain optimism of one looking out into the future. I began writing this concerto as I looked out into my own future; full of wonder and ready to brave the world. Though there are surprises found within, this piece follows the strict design of a five year plan. Where to From Here? This piece pays homage to the American songbook. Employed within are long melodic lines, lush harmonies and an atypical song form used to depict a sense of uncertainty, nostalgia and hope experienced as one begins to dissect ones past as a means to moving forward. This is the part where one realizes that plans do not always work as expected. From hear we turn to contemplation. Contemplation I The third movement features a free-form stream of consciousness composition. Inspired by the philosophical basis of Ornette Coleman’s melodic improvisations, this piece explores the process of composition with full attention to melody and little concern for a preconceived harmonic structure and form. As I began to question my own preconceived ideas and expectations, I remembered to once again trust and believe in the process. The melody found within contains traces of thematic material from the first and second movements. However, within this movement the themes are explored and allowed to take form freely without strict planning in regards to form and harmony; much like thoughts arising in a moment of contemplation. Are We There Yet? Our final movement is a playful bebop-inspired piece. Its title and inspiration come from an inquiry recently discovered by my oldest daughter on a cross country trip. As I discovered her favorite response to this age old question, I rediscovered the wisdom of staying on the path to self-discovery. What is her favorite response to this age old philosophical query? “We are so here!” – John Diaz-Cortez