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10916307_10153522290363835_4993792346268274994_o Earlier this month, at the urging of a couple friends I started a fundraising campaign in hopes of flying to NYC for a weekend to attend a performance of my third saxophone quartet, Constructions for Julie Mehretu. I feel extremely fortunate to have such wonderful friends because I reached my goal in under twelve hours.

I was really eager to go on this trip for multiple reasons:

1. I'd never been to NYC.

2. I wanted to hear another performance of my piece by Mana Quartet.

3. The artist, Julie Mehretu, whose work and painting process inspired the piece would be in attendance.

The performance was January 17th at Spectrum. The quartet sounded fantastic. It was the best performance of Constructions so far.

At the top of this post is a pic of me with Julie Mehretu. She was wonderful and extremely nice. I was giddy to meet her and tried hard to not become a total fanboy.

I will post more about the performance and my trip later.

Go hear the performance here

Caro Emerald

Y'all I'm not getting anything done today. I was piddling around on the intarwebs as one does when one should be finishing a solo trombone work.

I came across the singer Caro Emerald as I was searching for something else. I enjoy her voice. I've now downloaded both of her albums and am listening now. She's my latest singer crush. She hasn't totally replaced my current/previous singer crushes of Janelle Monae and Imelda May but she's fantastic.

She has a great band backing her up. (A great baritone saxophonist which is always a plus.) Her voice is reminiscent of jazz singers of the 40s and 50s.

Give her a chance. Take a listen to her song Tangled Up.


My Earle Brown Story

In the summer of 1999 I was finishing up planning the material for my senior recital in the spring of 2000. I was flipping through Jean-Marie Londiex’s 150 Years of Saxophone which is a catalogue of the vast majority of music for saxophone.

The book has a listing for a saxophone sonata by Earle Brown. I got excited. I was really getting into modern music at the time and my idea of modern music was very narrow and didn’t really include any music of the previous 20 years. Cage, Brown, and Boulez (not even late Boulez, pre-Sur Incise stuff) were my idea of modern music. I had no clue about later and crazier stuff. No clue at all.

So I began making lots of calls trying to track down a score for this alleged Earle Brown Sax Sonata.

After three weeks, I ended up leaving a message with a guy at a music store in (I think) Tampa. I don’t remember how this guy became the one on my list of people to call but he did.

A week later he returned my message and gave me a phone number to call Earle Brown.

So I mustered up the courage to call Earle Brown, but didn’t have enough damned sense to think of what I’d say if he answered.

A man answered the phone.

I told him who I was and the reason for my call. He confirmed that he was in fact Earle Brown.

I froze.

I couldn’t figure out what to say. I suddenly became star struck over the phone.

Here’s what I was finally able to blurt out:  "THE EARLE BROWN?! The composer Earle brown?! The really cool Earle Brown that hung out with John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Robert Rauschenberg?!"

I really did blurt it out. More like half-yelled, half-I don’t know what, but suddenly I realized I just accosted an old man over the phone.

I was such a dumbass.

He began laughing.  Pretty much laughing his ass off.  “Yes, thats me.” He said.

It still took me a moment to calm down.  He was familiar with the Londiex “150 Years” book.

He told me that there were two composers with his name. Earle Brown and Earl Browne. Earl Browne (not the cool one) had written a sax sonata.  He told me Earl Brown was a "Hollywood composer".

We talked for about 10 minutes and he was really kind and very patient with me.

He talked about how he had tried to write a sax quartet in the sixties or seventies and it didn’t work out.

That’s my Earle Brown story.

I was incredibly naïve. He got a great laugh out of it and I got a great story.

Now his music has become such an influence on my own work. At that time I’d yet to begin composing.

Try and try again.

About 4 years ago i started a couple pieces. One for piano and another for flute and saxophone which i'm still fiddling around with. At the time, I was working a couple different jobs. Outside of one job I walked past a wall of wisteria and another job seemed to exist inside an area encased in the aroma of honeysuckle. My two favorite thHoneysuckle motiveings about spring are honeysuckle and wisteria. I find the smell of those flowers completely intoxicating. Which is kind of funny because i'm allergic to every other grass, tree, and plant that grows here in Mississippi. Damn plants and their pollen.

The flute and saxophone was named Wisteria Blooms and the piano work was Honeysuckle Variations. Perhaps I was listening to too much Takemitsu and was in a pastoral mood. (There's no such thing as too much Takemitsu.)

I finished the piano work. At least at the time I felt i had finished the piano work. It was a set of variations. The Honeysuckle Variations. I remember the night that i wrote it i felt it was some of the prettiest music I ever composed. And a week later I felt some parts of it were the most beautiful thing I've ever composed. A few months later I really loved a few of the variations.
I decided it needed something. That the piece felt incomplete.

So I added a string quartet because I love piano quintets and have always wanted to write one. The Quintet for piano and strings by Elliott Carter and Akea by Xenakis are to of my favorite works of all time.
I added the strings and worked out some things and felt the piece was complete. (This was about 2 1/2 years ago.)
A few months ago, I started looking at the versions I had of the piece. Also in between those two versions I tried working out some of the ideas for two pianos with no luck. The material didn't seem to shine in those earlier versions. They still needed something.

[Side note: I only feel like I've figured out how to properly develop musical material last year. It was while I was composing Constructions for saxophone quartet that it seemed to click. Hopefully it continues to "click" and I can keep making piles of stuff out of the material at hand.]

So nowHoneysuckle Nocturne pic I've started on the latest version of the piece. It is for piano and twelve winds (fl,ob, bsn, cl, Bcl, asx, bsx, 2tpts, hn, tbn, tuba). I've been able to elaborate on some of the ideas and realize others in new voices which changes the character. The piece seems to be flexing its muscles. growing wings, or whatever metaphor is most appropriate for such occasions. I have about 2'30" composed. The beginning and ending sections. I have a clear path in my head about the inner sections which i do not always have when composing. The title is no longer Honeysuckle Variations since the material is blending together  and expanding and the formal structure has changed. Honeysuckle Nocturne for piano and twelve winds is the current title.

This ensemble is the largest group I've ever composed for. I'm composing this work for the desire i have to see this musical material stretched to its limits.

I hope it turns out well. I've never had a piece go through this many interpretations. I want to finish the work by the holidays and hopefully I didn't jinx it by talking about it.

30 seconds of music

Over a decade ago, I began a work for alto saxophone and cello which never totally came to fruition. One small movement was completed. It was only 30 seconds of music. I've always had a soft spot for this small piece, so I finally made a PDF file of the work and now I'm offering the work to whoever wants it. If you are interested in the piece feel free to download the score from the link provided below.

 Download Allegro Scorrevole for alto saxophone and cello

Mason Modern Music Ensemble at George Mason University

Saturday May 3rd the Mason Modern Music Ensemble (M3E) is performing my Open Piece No. 1. According to the School of music Calendar it will be in the Choral Hall at 5pm. So if you are in the area feel free to go to the performance. I am sure it will be wonderful.

If you want to take a peak at the score click here

If you'd like to hear a previous performance of the work click here


Best of luck to the performers of M3E. I can't wait to hear the recording.

Constructions for Julie Mehretu

On March 16 at the Sound Wired Concerts in Chicago, Mana Quartet performed my Constructions for Julie Mehretu for a second time. The performance was wonderful. Check out the video. They are fantastic.

St. Paul & the Broken Bones

St. Paul & the Broken Bones singing "Call Me".

They are a fantastic band out of Birmingham, AL.

Pierre Boulez on composition. Inspiring talk from Pierre Boulez where he gives insight into his compositional process. He discusses his piano work Incises and how he expands different elements to create his magnificent Sur Incises.

Some of you have probably seen this before but i happened to stumble across it this morning and wanted to share it.

Keep it real.

Leif Segerstam Part 1

I only discovered the music of the Finnish composer and conductor Leif Segerstam a few months ago. His handwritten scores can be quite a mess, but his music is always interesting and engaging.  His music is usually very free. The individual parts do not always line up together, in fact they very rarely do.  Perhaps the freedom allowed to the performers is what draws me to his music since I've been working on that same issue in my recent music. Anyway here is a video of Pia Segerstam (cello) and Christophe Sirodeau (piano) performing Leif segerstam's Noem No. 8 for cello and piano. Pia Segerstam is the daughter of Leif Segerstam and if I remember correctly Christophe Sirodeau is her husband.

Website post part deux

Last Tuesday, my Constructions for Julie Mehretu for saxophone quartet was premiered in Hattiesburg, MS by the amazing Mana Quartet. The performance was great. I was very pleased and fortunate to have such fine musicians perform my music.  I should have audio of the performance posted here soon and then the score/parts will be available soon. peace out