©2006 Kelly Bucheger.
Right now I have only one of my tunes available here, the title track from The Illicit Sextet's first CD, Chapter One. This tune was premiered at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and won an honorable mention from the Jazz Composers Alliance in Boston, and what the heck, I think it's a pretty darn good tune.
An overview of Chapter One
The tune starts with a written trumpet and tenor duo (Page 1) that sets the mood for the rest of the proceedings, and introduces melodic material that will be heard later on. A portion of this opening duo is also reprised to finish off the tune.
The drums use the bar before letter A to set a faster tempo for the main part of the piece. The feel is what I call "straight-eighths jazz": it ain't latin and it ain't swing. It's just ... straight.
Piano and bass play an odd-metered ostinato figure. While there are a number of meter changes leading to letter B (Page 2), they are a natural consequence of the melody and ostinato figure, and ideally a listener might not even be aware of the shifting meters: in other words, tackling the changes in meter during performance should sound natural, not heroic.
The meter settles down for a nice little 8 bar interlude at letter B before the ostinato kicks in again at letter C.
Letter D (Page 3), leading to the first solo setting, directly makes use of the first motif from the opening duo. The first solo begins at letter E. The chorus length is a slightly-unusual 14 bars, and, if I may say so myself, I think it's a neat set of changes to work off of.
The solo continues when letter F is cued, and the horns come in with an undulating triplet figure that permits (hopefully) a sneaky change to swing feel in the rhythm section. By the time the next solo starts at letter G (Page 4) the feel is total hard swing, but due to the transition at letter F it sneaks up on the listener rather than coming on abruptly.
One of my favorite things about this tune is that it offers two utterly different settings for solos, departing from the typical jazz practice of a round robin of solos based on the changes of the head. In fact, the soloists blow on changes that are not found anywhere else in the tune, yet the solo sections (in my utterly unbiased opinion) sound entirely in character with the rest of the piece.
The simple changes at letter G offer the soloist lots of space for modal burning, and this section is one where several players often volunteer to get in line and take a shot at a few choruses (though I think the tune is most effective with just one soloist in each section).
Admittedly, this ain't necessarily an easy tune to pull off, and I thank my former fellows of The Illicit Sextet -- Steve Kenny, David Roos, Chris Lomheim, Tom Pieper, and Nathan Norman -- for what I consider to be a near-definitive rendition of Chapter One .