Throughout the ages, composers have taken pre-existent music as a starting point in some of their own composing. From Palestrina to Berio, from Beethoven to Shostakovich, we have countless instances when this external stimulus served as a base for their own original work.
This disc is an exploration of the concept of creating music from borrowed melodies, sometimes well known, sometimes obscure and sometimes only implied. The musical source material is global in scope because we in Westwind Brass (WWB) love to explore different cultures and eras in our music making.
Brent Dutton is the tuba player with WWB and its Artistic Director. Part of his job is to construct our programs. We strive for originality and connectedness in a global context in the music we make. To that end, he has written a lot of music for us over the years. Dutton’s World Resounds is a sampler of that work (along with Alexander Arutiunian’s most excellent Armenian Scenes). Most of the pieces are small fantasies but some of them are straight transcriptions.
Our musical voyage around the world begins with This Land Is Your Land, an arrangement that WWB likes to use as a concert opener. Then we are off to Ireland with O Danny Boy. This is such a revered melody that the arranger felt it shone best without alterations in the melodic line. Personal touches appear in the harmonies and counterpoint.
Mexico is represented with a cheeky setting of the traditional Hat Dance. See if you can hear the references to Brahms , Moncoyo and Bach ! El Condor Pasa was written one morning in Dutton’s hotel room while on a quintet tour of Bolivia (he always travels with a music notebook because he gets lots of ideas while on the go). The arrangement was premiered that evening in a concert in Sucre. The melody is like a national folk treasure in Bolivia so we saw lots of smiling faces when the tune emerged from is veiled opening.
Next we go to Brazil and hear Jobim’s wonderful Desafinado. Again, this is such a perfect tune that Brent felt it best to show it in its original clothes with a brass quintet touch.
Seikilos Song is based on the oldest known Greek melody. It starts simply and gradually builds to a mighty close.
Finland offers up a traditional Old Wedding Waltz. Brent found the tune in a folk fiddle book and spread it throughout the sonic gambit of the quintet.
The most recent arrangement on this disc is The Yankee Variant Doodles. Brent took this quintessentially American tune and had a good deal of respectful fun as he wove it through an introduction, five variants and a Coda.
There are many setting of the haunting Japanese tune Sakura. This one is ours and it is for Jo Ann.
The idea behind Mediterranean Reveries was to take a virtual musical cruise around the Med. Musical stops begin with Tunis – Morning, based on an old market incantation. Next is Israel. Natanya –Noon is based on a Torah song. Brent had the image of sitting on the beautiful beach in Natanya at noon one a clear hot day and being made happily immobile by the rays of the sun. Finally, it is off to Greece with Athens – Evening. Brent had the image of a traveler sitting in an outdoor café misremembering Greek folk dances after discovering the potent powers of Ouzo.
Many years ago, a colleague of Brent’s, Dr. Rodney Kirk, introduced him to field recordings of the music of the Kalahari Bushmen. Brent heard the tune Bitter Melons and thought it would be a great way to introduce their music to our audiences. The tune is stated in its unadorned fashion as a trombone solo and then treated to some modern reworking.
Ingoma Yakwethu is a straight transcription of a field recording of a male chorus from South Africa. Nothing was added to it so that its diatonic charm would be unimpaired.
Our last music comes from Armenia in the exquisite form of Alexander Arutiunian’s Armenian Scenes. The four movements are very evocative and we in WWB love playing this music whenever we get the chance.
Recorded at LMP Studios Claremont California June 27-28 2011
Recording Engineer : Jim Linahon
Recording Mixers : Brent Dutton and Jim Linahon
Producers : Brent Dutton and Jim Linahon