Dreaming of the Masters I
A Jazz Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble
Composition Date: 2003(adapted from the Orchestral Version)
This work was composed in 2003 during my tenure as Composer-in-Residence with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Clarinetist James Campbell was scheduled to open our 2003/2004 “Pops” series and it was suggested that I compose a work for clarinet and orchestra. For a few years I have been thinking about how to combine my experience as an orchestral composer with my background as a jazz player. The idea which took shape was a series of Jazz Concerto’s for soloists who where comfortable in both the classical and jazz idioms. Each concerto would be inspired by the great jazz soloists of that particular instrument, hence the title Dreaming of the Masters, and allow the player the opportunity to improvise. This is the first work in that series.
The complete title of the work is Dreaming of the Masters I, a Jazz Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra and as mentioned above an important jazz clarinetist inspires each movement. Movement I, subtitled Benny’s Bounce, is inspired by Benny Goodman. The sound of this movement is very much in the style of Sing Sing Sing, one of Benny’s biggest hits. This movement also begins with one of the most famous moments in the clarinet repertoire, which I won’t give away. Movement II is the slow movement and is inspired by some of the great clarinetist’s of the 20’s and 30’s. Artists like Pee Wee Russell and Barney Bigard. The subtitle, Stranger on the Prairie, is an inside joke. One of the biggest hits for the clarinet is Acker Bilk’s Stranger on the Shore. Since Jim Campbell is from the Canadian prairies, I titled my movement Stranger on the Prairie. The last movement is called Rhythm Buddy and the inspiration is Buddy DeFranco, one of the few clarinetists from the Bebop era. It is written on the chord changes to I Got Rhythm and quotes other famous “rhythm-changes” tunes as well as giving the soloist a chance to show off their technique.