The idea of the blues took on a particular poignancy, however, when the frontman, tenor Stephen Rosenthal, told the audience that the group had just learned that its residency at the University at Buffalo, now in its eighth year, is being terminated. Rosenthal dropped this bad news on the audience just before the last scheduled piece on the program, "All Right Blues," composed by alto Russ Carere. The group then proceeded to play the pants off this jazz tour de force. Carere treats his partners right in this piece, letting the tenor, and baritone Harry Fackelman, lead off with an up-tempo duet before his hard-blowing solo. The program had opened unexpectedly, with a short, celebratory overture by Vivaldi, followed by the "Saxophone Quartet," composed for the group in by the late UB professor Carlo Pinto.

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This piece, although more popular than most bebop, stretches the boundaries of what was termed bebop. In some ways it is a cool jazz or West Coast jazz style but it still shares the angular quality of the original bebop.

In this piece we hear drums, bass, piano, and alto saxophone. It has a lively beat though not particularly fast. The most interesting feature of this music is its time signature. At the beginning of the piece Brubeck introduces the theme. It is 32 bars long with 8 bar sections and seems to have an ABAC form. He is accompanied by Paul Desmond, the sax player, on the B section. After this, the A theme is taken up by the sax player with Brubeck in the background. They improvise over the B and C sections using some difficult rhythmic phrases but always coming back to the A theme at the appropriate times.

The continue the end of the second chorus into the large and heavy block chords Brubeck was known for. Four choruses are taken. The style here is very much cool jazz. Desmond uses little vibrato except on very long notes.

He bends lots of notes which introduces interesting and new pitches into his solo. If you listen closely to the bass, it is easy to hear how the saxophonist is improvising directly from the chords of the walking bass line. He fills his solo with lots of triplet grace notes and simple ostinato which evolve into his signature block chords before receding to his previous ideas. The ideas we saw at the beginning of the piece are repeated but we build up to the climax of the block chords more quickly and stay there, ending on on a very solid major chord following by a drum hit.

The bass and drums keep the tempo from dragging or speeding up even with the time signature changes. This piece is a great example of how jazz can split into many different genres, but still be intrinsically related.

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Paul Desmond – Blue Rondo À La Turk



Blue Rondo a la Turk, Dave Brubeck


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