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.
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.
This Duo Chronicles theme is called “January.” It’s about marking time. While our personal life cycles rarely fit neatly into the calendar year, January does feel like a marker–both a time to reflect on the past and a time to start fresh. January is two-sided in this way, just like the Roman deity Janus, the god of endings and beginnings whose two faces look to the past and the future. This is what I had in mind as I was writing this music.
The piece starts with an open bass solo — a meditation or reflection on the past over a single, minor chord. This is followed by the saxophone’s rubato melody statement that transitions us to the piano’s improvisation on the present. Here, the form has changed slightly and some chords are extended. At this point, there is a musical conversation occurring that leads into the future, propelled by the saxophone, over a suspended chord whose open sound contrasts with the minor sound we heard during the bass’s opening reflection on the past.
Bassist Dave Captein joins us on this tune. One would be hard pressed to find a more solid and versatile bassist anywhere. Thanks to Dave for taking part in this.
In this year’s project, we’ll compose, record and disseminate one song a month for the next twelve months. While not as rigorous as the last series in which we produced a song every week for a year, this current project will present its own challenges. We plan to arrange pieces for more instruments and include a variety of guest artists. We’re using four cameras now (two Flips and two iPhones). This presents John with more video editing options, but also makes it more challenging.
We hope you enjoy this Duo Chronicles 2012 project.