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A swirly piece with Spanish overtones. The rain in Spain goes mainly down the drain. I nearly called this acid test, which has other connotations, which may make some of it more meaningful to some people.
A simple arpeggiated pattern and a simple melodic motif, put together in various ways. Sometimes the questioning motif is answered, and sometimes it’s not. I wanted this piece to sound beautiful, and to evoke memories of places seen, or unseen, or forgotten.
BB doesn’t stand in this case for the Famous French Film Actress mentioned in my potted biography. Maybe it’s so named because there’s a heavily-featured Bouncy Bass, or maybe it’s because some of the drum shots sound like a BB gun, or maybe it means Big Brother, who everyone is watching, apparently.
A standard-type blues, with added moans, in keeping with feeling blue. I play the soprano saxophone throughout, and am joined by some hefty trombones later. This piece sounds like a jazz classic, to me. How about it, fellow musicians?
The curtains slowly open, and it’s daylight! Little fauns skip around, the sun is blue, leprechauns leap over logs, cute fairies flit over the pool, and a lugubrious lizard plays the bass clarinet. Then the curtains close again, and silence ensues…
This is not a cannonball that kills people, but a rogue cannonball that lands on Plymouth Hoe, and starts bouncing along, like a dance. Some rogue! The steamships from space are continually firing new cannonballs, but they all fly harmlessly overhead, while our cannonball terpsichores his way around the grassy Hoe. Some council members form up to disapprove of the display, but even they are won over by the captivating rhythms of the cannonball, who also plays the saxophone, as well as creating the beat with the help of springy grass and gravity.
Carry That Snail
You can sing along with this if you want -‘carry that snail, carry that snail’, or the guitar and baritone phrases, or the groovy guitar riff, or my improvised soprano saxophone, which really is carrying the snail. Instead of carrying a house on your back, it would be nice if the house carried you, the snail. Is this normal?
This is my version of ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ by George Gershwin. If you happen to hear this piece before reading this blurb, you may not realise for a while what the tune is, but if you read this blurb first it will have given the game away, so you’d better not read this first. GG was a fantastic composer, and another time I am going to see if I can combine his rhythm songs – ‘fascinating rhythm’, ‘I got rhythm’ – together with ‘crazy rhythm’, into one interlocking piece. But I need to keep practising how to spell rithm.
Feel Your Heart
I don’t normally blow my own trumpet, for the simple reason that I don’t have a trumpet. But although I played the saxophone twice on this piece, and composed the music, and orchestrated it on my Mac, and produced it, I do think it sounds rather beautiful. It’s meant to sound heartfelt, and I hope it induces such feelings in you. Don’t try literally feeling your heart, tho’. That would be silly, and besides there’s too much skin and flesh and bone in the way.
You are rushing along the highway at night, main beams lighting up the rain, trying to keep yourself awake. You are also feeling romantic. Maybe if you find a hotel you might meet someone in the bar, and take them up to the bedroom, and you can both get your heads down for a good night. A ho-tel appears, with a sign saying ‘no vacancies’. There are lights on in all the windows, and copulating shapes perform behind the curtains. But not for you. You carry on rushing through the night.
Is it A Rumba?
It might well be. Or it could be another latin rhythm. I haven’t analysed it. It just happened, like all my other pieces. It’s better not to think when composing – just concentrate. This is what Joe Zawinul said. Maybe it’s a fight against a bull, but in this case the bull wins, and the man with the red rag expires with a final sigh.
A staircase, a flight of steps, an opera house. These stairs go up and up, and when they reach the top they immediately start going down the other side, with no opportunity to enjoy the view. The strings and the soprano saxophone play a simply haunting mini-melody, and the soprano plays around like a true diva.
Three successive build ups to a super storm, which never happens. Instead it’s just an April Shower. There are some quite complex concurrent time signatures, and in one passage the guitar stoically plays regular beats, while everyone else flits all around him. Good job I know a stoic guitar guitar player. They’re not all like that, you see.
This is what to do if time is tight, if money’s tight, if the tube is tight, if tights are tight, if life is tight. It always works. The twangy riff with filter sweeps gives a temporal reference, for guidance and flavour. It’s not too slow tho’, because although we need to loosen up completely, we don’t need to come a halt. Do we?
A spotlight flicks on, and we see two tambourine players. The crowd like this. Another spotlight – guitar player, playing a groovy groove. A third spotlight – and the bass and drums come in, a powerful line throbbing the stadium. The crowd rise in anticipation, and then full lights, and in comes the soprano, singing along with the band. There are some wholesome whole tone interludes between baritone saxophone and soprano saxophone, and at a microphone on the side of the stage are three girls, vocalising occasionally. It’s that kind of band. They always start with an opener, otherwise they’d never get going.
My daughter says this one sounds sleazy-cheesy, like an old Hollywood movie, when the gangster’s moll slinks in. Actually, the tune’s about sticky things. and putting epistles in slots. Maybe there’s a connection. Dig the fade, a simulated stuck groove.
This doesn’t work when there’s gravity, only when there’s levity, or anti-gravity, which comes to the same thing. I hope this piece leaves you in peace.
Light clouds and dark clouds. Clouds of light and clouds of dark. Water in the sky. Sky in the water. Fly through the clouds, come out the other side. You know it makes sense.
I have no idea why I called this trad jazz (you know – New Orleans, Louis Armstrong, banjos, etc.) It’s not trad jazz at all. That’s OK. People didn’t say about Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that it doesn’t sound like a symphony, it sounds like a coded wartime message, which it was. It just doesn’t matter. When Tchaikovsky composed the Nutcracker ballet music, people didn’t say ‘I can’t hear a fucking nutcracker’. So what? There’s no law I know of that says the title of a piece of music has to reflect its content. I nearly called this ‘The rise and fall of anarcho-syndicalism in the twenty first century’. So think yourselves lucky.
Travel light, travel far. You are carrying only a saxophone and a book of notes. This piece has pumping bass and drums, being the motive power for your journey. You may eventually reach Disneyland, where the ladies sing high and clear. You leave for home, but soon change your mind and head back to the dream park, for good. Welcome back, sing the ladies, in a wordless sort of way.
This is orchestral-sounding, with tuba and pizzicato celli and flutes to the fore, and an incongruous organ. Much of this is in a three in a bar format, but with other conflicting two-step stuff. This is designed to trip up dancers, which is always amusing. So don’t try this at home. Best to try it in the waiting area of your nearest A&E department, so you don’t have to hobble so far on your broken limbs. Sorry about that.
An improvised vibraphone solo, with accompaniment by a spiralling sequence, a friendly saxophone and two equally magnanimous clarinets. A section near the end has everyone conspiring to sound melodramatic. Do you like mellow drama? If so, this is the piece for you. You’re welcome to download it, and let me know what you think. But don’t be too melodramatic, please. I’ve had a hard day. (Not really. It’s been very enjoyable, as a matter of fact.)