Post-millennial swing

By JIM MACNIE  |  August 4, 2010

TELL ME ABOUT THE BROOKMEYER CHART. WHAT HAVE YOU PUT TOGETHER FOR YOUR OLD MENTOR? It's titled "Blow-Out Prevention." Often when something is so absurdly bad — in this case the Gulf's underwater oil volcano and the easily preventable catastrophe that ensued — I can only really deal with it in music. If I think about it without writing about, it's too wrist-slitting depressing. Any sentient being should be appalled about what's going on. Obviously Brookmeyer himself is no stranger to political musical statements. There's a piece on Waltzing with Zoe called "American Tragedy" — he wrote it about the stolen election. Having had the experience of playing his music [at NEC], I'm looking forward to now subjecting him to my stuff. But clearly I want him to be comfortable. I listened to "Celebration Suite," where Bob took Gerry Mulligan's language and stepped back to accommodate him [when writing it]. I tried to take a similar approach. Clearly I'm writing for Brookmeyer; I'm not going to use all these gnarly odd-meter rock rhythms — that would be absurd. So I had to square my language with what Bob has done. I knew it would be in 4/4 and relatively uptempo, and tried to find a way to bring some of the rhythmic devices that are used in my music into a more swinging context.

WILL DIEHARD SECRET SOCIETY FANS HEAR THIS AS A DIFFERENT TRAJECTORY? WILL IT BE NOTICEABLE? Hmmmm. Sure, yeah. There are tunes that we do that are in a similar spirit, things that mine a post-millennial swing territory. "Transit," before it goes into the rock groove, is like that. And an unrecorded piece called "Flux In a Box" which I actually wrote when I was studying with Brookmeyer. In a lot of ways, writing this new piece was like going back to those days where I could hear Bob's voice in my ear saying, "More of this part here, I'm not sold on that harmony there . . . ." I think it's a good piece. It filters all of these influences into something coherent. That was a concern. I'm really wary of juxtapositions that don't sound natural together. There's some music that takes ideas from various places — Balkan music and punk rock, say — and puts it together in an obvious way. I'm not in interested in that. The piece has to suggest a language of its own. I want to make sure that all the elements aren't working at cross purposes.

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