Sunday, January 4, 2015

Notes on “Dos Para Dos,” suite for Violin and Piano, by Becky Archibald

I. Melaza en Enero (Molasses in January)
Melaza en Enero is, well, slow, sultry, sweet and syrupy (but in a good way.) Looking back through the piece, I am surprised at the complexity on paper of something that (to me) goes down so smooth. The opening 32 bars (constructed from four 8-bar phrases of varying chord progressions in various keys) have more of a melodic plan while the next section (starting with solo piano and utilizing the same chord progressions) is based on improvisation. This piece is another stop along the way of my search for freedom through jazz.

II. con jamón (with ham)
It started with a memory of something embarrassing that happened to me during a jam session in an 800-year-old castle in France…
It was 3 a.m., the usual time the group of international jazz students came together to jam, and my first time to participate. I didn’t know the protocol – it seemed like everyone was just playing randomly. When there was a pause, someone said to me, “Start me a groove.” New to jazz, I didn’t know what he meant, so I started improvising, looking for something cool and groovy. He gave me a disappointed, almost angry look and said, “No, start me a groove!” This was not the kind of environment for a “lesson,” there was not a place to step aside and have him teach me. I just kept trying and failing. Finally, I was saved by a guitarist who “started the groove” properly.

There is much more to tell but it needs to be kept a surprise!

Ascending, the violin/piano duo who commissioned these pieces, asked for something funny, so first I worked on funny, then racked my brain for a title. Towards the end, as I was writing a suggestion to “Ham it up!” in the score, I thought, hmmmm, this just might work…)

Watch for a youtube video soon of their January 9 premiere in NY!

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