The photo on the cover of this CD is titled “Steps” and became a metaphor for the creation of this recording. After our initial recording collaboration with “Old News” (2002) we began the process of this new endeavor with the parameters of composing, arranging or adapting all the material instead of the commissioning or recording of previously known works as we did for “Old News.” Second, we would record and edit (computer with pro tools) all the material ourselves. These parameters, goals or steps each presented new challenges and insights to the process of creation. The artist/photographer Gerald Wells relates the following about his image:
“Steps” is my interpretation of the 1930s and 40s European quest for survival, which launched abstract investigations in many fields: what had gone before no longer worked, and movement into the future required entirely new approaches to thought and action. My creative views have further been fueled by responses to the conflicting pedagogies of the 1950s and 60s, galvanized by many projects involving traditional media whose limitations convinced me (through a process of negation and fresh discovery) that the computer is the tool anticipated in earlier modes of endeavor. Indeed, the computer has the capacity to revisit and reframe visual processes that were not even conceivable using media from prior eras.
Art must be sought in the process of becoming, whereby an idea, a form, a worldview morph into “the next thing.” This has little or nothing to do with crystallized imagination, and everything to do with the faith that stands on the precipice of prior accomplishments, and casts a line into space. “Steps” simultaneously pays homage to creative evolution, and adds its quantum of energy to the substance of what has gone before.
It seems fitting that it was created electronically and printed by the giclee process, which ensures durability and represents one more step into the future.
The contents of this recording are five newly-composed pieces and four arrangements and adaptations of existing music. Four Movements for Trumpet and Marimba actually utilizes vibraphone and flugelhorn as well the instrumentation suggested in the title, but adheres to the solo trumpet and keyboard-percussion sound that defines the first half of this recording. While it is not a formal jazz composition, jazz influences are apparent through much of the piece. Waste Not…Waltz Not is for trumpet and timpani and transforms an atonal, angular melody into a humorous waltz. A melodic timpani part, interactive rhythms, and virtuosic cadenzas are characteristics of this composition. Electric Flugelhorn makes use of electronic effects, such as octave displacement and digital delay as well as a loop station to present contrasting layers in live performances. Pennington plays bodhran (Irish frame drum) on this piece and the studio recording afforded the ability to add shaker and riqq as well to this track. The grouping of temple blocks, almglocken, woodblocks, cowbells and opera gong into a keyboard formation, using chromatic notation with a rack of unspecified-pitched timbres produces and instrument called “Timbrack” as developed by Michael Udow. Meditation and Dance uses a timbrack expanded by the addition of bongos, bass drum and gong. During the unison rhythm passages, the two performers read virtually the same notated pitches, but the timbrack yields un-predictable timbres and pitches against the trumpet line. The title, “Glass Façade,” comes from a painting by Paul Klee, depicting a simple stained glass window. The painting emerges with a logic and organization reminding us of a musical fugue, which like much of Klee’s work, displays a dimension of simplicity. Although through continued examination, ones perceives a depth, originality and complexity to the work. The melody was developed originally as an accompaniment for a song titled Day Sky for voice and mbira. Now, expanded, the composition uses: mbira, glockenspiel, Middle Eastern tar, shaker and muted trumpet. Like the painting, Glass Façade is related by the use of a drone or music canvas.
The four arrangements contained in this disk begin with Ravel’s Vocalise—a timeless classic with a gypsy-flavored melody. Piazzolla’s masterful “Histoire du Tango,” originally written for flute and guitar has been transcribed for many combinations of instruments and is to our understanding entering the trumpet and percussion world for the first time. Baroque Suite challenges the duo to perform this deceivingly simple-sounding, graceful music from a period of musical history when trumpet and percussion were accustomed to playing mere simple harmonic outlines. Spiegel im Spiegel translates to “mirror in the mirror,” referring to the infinite number of images created by two parallel mirrors. The original composition was scored for violin and piano. Using Pärt’s own terminology, it is in his tintinnabular style which is characterized by the combination of a strictly arpeggiated voice (marimba in this case) with a strictly step-wise voice (trumpet). The musical effect is tranquil and meditative.
This collection developed through friendship, respect, and musical collaboration. It is hoped that this collection will present these works to other trumpet and percussion duos and inspire the creation of additional repertoire.– Dunn and Pennington (August 2008)
Produced by Stephen Dunn and John Pennington
Recorded and Edited by Stephen Dunn
Mixed and Mastered by Scott Smith at Scooter’s Place—Durango, CO (scootersplace.net)
Recorded 2008, Roshong Recital Hall, Fort Lewis College – Durango, Colorado
Cover art: Steps by Gerald Wells (GeraldWells.com)
Graphic Design by Mike Tanner and Stephen Dunn
Graphic production and audio replication by World Class Tapes, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Sincere thanks to: Shelley Rich, JC and Ellen Dunn, Mary and Kelsey Pennington, Augustana College, Fort Lewis College
Special thanks to Northern Arizona University and its Intramural Grant Program
P © 2008 Stephen Dunn and John Pennington. All Rights Reserved.