Street Jam (2004)

Commissioned by trumpeter Eric Berlin. Premiered by the same with Eduardo Leandro, percussionist on April 24, 2005 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (and in June, 2005 at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Bangkok, Thailand). Approximately 6:00 long. It is for Trumpet and one percussionist playing a pair of bongos.

Program note:

Street Jam is in Rondo form. The rondo theme is jazzy and showy for the trumpet, underpinned rhythmically by a bongo part that draws upon the influence on me by electronica, via my immersion the prior year in a single track by Aphex Twin that I was asked to transcribe by Alarm Will Sound.

The ensuing episodes are different from each other in character, sometimes exploring disparate musical styles, sometimes simply re-working motives from the theme within new tempi and characterizations. Like much of my other duo or solo (monophonic) music where harmony is difficult to project (such as Spelunk for solo clarinet), I turned to changes of tempo and metric modulation to play the traditional role of modulation.

In the latter half of the work, following a sultry, "belly-dancing" 5/4 episode, the trumpet takes on a more vocal, declamatory, nearly religious character. It is underpinned by bongo interjections, which I imagine to be in a "talking drum" style. This idea bears the influence of a transcription I did in college of the free drumming in a (Sri Lankan) Sanni exorcism ritual.

The piece then works its way back to the opening Rondo theme before concluding.

I conceived the work on a request for a Trumpet and Percussion composition. As a percussionist myself I make it a point to do as much as possible with the fewewst possible instruments (because I hate moving equipment!). The instrumentation, and the compositional challenge put forth by that instrumentation, is the departure point of the work. I drew upon the vibe of street musicians as its impetus, thus its title. But there are influences of electronica and exotica. Some of the technique used in the bongo writing comes from showy marching band snare drumming.

I am grateful to Eric Berlin for commissioning this work.

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mp3 excerpts:

Title Duration
Beginning 1:12
"Talking Drum" :58

Recording clip is from the commerically available CD on MSR.