Week 28 – Off Kilter

As I mentioned last week, this year’s Portland Jazz Festival just wrapped up.  Some of the most interesting music that I heard at the festival came from several Norwegian musicians that came through as part of the festival — particularly Trygve Seim’s duo with Frode Haltli and the Christian Wallumrod Ensemble.  Rather than getting caught up in endless solos full of eighth notes, the Norwegians tended to play as an ensemble, rarely featuring any one particular musician.

The piece that I wrote for this week reflects some of the lessons I learned while listening to these groups.  The piece is truly a duet — there’s a small piano solo in the middle and a small saxophone solo near the end, but the majority of the piece is the two of us interweaving a relatively simple melodic idea.  The title, “Off Kilter,” comes from the fact that the piece, while generally a waltz in 3/4, has a couple of 2/4 bars thrown in that give the piece a different lilt than if it were in a constant 3.

If you check out the sheet music, you’ll see that both of us stay close to what is on the page — Clay’s piano part, for example, is completely written out for the majority of the piece, rather than being improvised based on a set of written chord changes like is often the case for jazz piano parts.  In many ways, the piece is more similar to a classical etude than a jazz piece — another idea inspired by the new music I saw at the festival.

Next week, we’ll be visit nearly the polar opposite of the spectrum — a dirty slow blues from Clay.

Special note: Duo Chronicles will be performing live at Brasserie Montmartre on March 18

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