Clay and I have both had plenty of occasions to playing with Tim Gilson on gigs, but always when he’s playing bass. For this video, we decided to take advantage of another one of his many talents: playing the cello. As a side note, people who have seen Tim play bass may have noticed that he tunes his bass in an unusual way. Rather than tuning in 4ths, like a bass guitar, he tunes in 5ths, like the cello.
The piece I wrote to feature Tim is a genre-bending classical/jazz hybrid. It has long through-composed sections and two “solo” sections that are really more “improvising” sections than they are “solo” sections, since they don’t feature one musician in particular.
This month’s video features Tim Jensen, one of the area’s best woodwind doublers, playing flute. Originally, I intended to write a piece for flute, soprano saxophone, and piano, but as I went through revisions of the piece, I decided that while the combination of soprano and flute is an interesting color (we used it in the original Duo Chronicles project), I really wanted to take the opportunity to play a duet with Tim.
One of the goals of this years Duo Chronicles project is to feature a different instrument each month. Guitarist Dan Balmer certainly needs no introduction to people here in the Pacific Northwest. Dan has been a fixture on the Portland music scene for many years. I have collaborated with Dan in the band “Go By Train” for the past ten years, and am familiar with his playing and compositions. He can generate a huge amount of improvisational energy in his playing.
In writing this composition I wanted to create a vehicle for improvisation, but also have a singable melodic line, with some modern jazz harmony underneath mixed in for good measure. Everyone gets a little solo time and we trade ideas at the end of the piece. It was fun to play off John and Dan’s musical ideas.
April’s Duo Chronicles + brings in someone who I had been hoping to collaborate with for a long time. In fact, when we did our first year of Duo Chronicles videos, we had toyed with the idea of doing an occasional video where we would play duo with someone else and throw it into the series as an extra. As it turned out, one video a week with the two of us was enough to keep up with and we never did the extra videos, but it seemed like with our guest series during our second year, it was a perfect time to bring in Mike.
Mike has a great ability to fit into a role while still sounding like himself. He plays piano and vibes and can play old-timey swing just as well as he can play modern jazz. I decided to take advantage of this and write a tune with a variety of harmonic devices. The tune overall has a very modal feel to it, but the individual changes add some complexity that Mike handles in a great way.
It’s the end of February and time for our second video in the Duo Chronicles + series. After doing one a week for the first year of Duo Chronicles, one a month sure seems like a long time goes by between videos. Still, though, it seems like we end up scrambling to meet the deadline.
This month’s video features Paul Mazzio on flugelhorn. Paul is a staple in the Portland scene and has a beautiful tone on both trumpet and flugelhorn that people always want to hear. There’s a lot of character in his playing, which carries through to the personalities of the bands that he plays with.
Since we’re still in the winter months, the composition is fairly dark and lyrical. Elements of melody, harmony, and time slide back and forth, rarely settling for more than a couple of bars, much like an Oregon February where you never know quite what to expect, except that it’s probably not going to be a heat wave.