Sunday Afternoon At The Ghost Ranch
Daniel J. Perlongo
About this work:
The theme, stated right at the beginning by the violin and sax, is a short, driving, angular gesture, reminiscent of the bebop jazz movement in the 1940’s. And this is immediately responded to by a descending tune-like phrase in the trumpet. You will hear this a few times throughout the work as a ritornello or recurring theme. This is a one movement work, in one rather brisk tempo, with continuous developing variations of this theme.
The name of the piece comes from a Sunday afternoon tour, a couple of years ago, at the Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu, New Mexico. It was one of the haunts of the famous American painter, Georgia O’Keefe, who lived and painted their in the 1930’s and 40’s. (Actually, she remained in that area until she died in the 1980’s.) It was a breezy, warm afternoon, with scattered adobe buildings in a desert landscape, surrounded by red and yellow tinted rocks and mountains. It was as if the painters’ spirits were still haunting the ranch.
The ghost reference in the music can be drawn on a few levels: first, simply as a programmatic souvenir, an echo of the rather haunting experience of that afternoon; second, on the level of musical language or syntax, the theme at the beginning is built on extended dominant chords with the roots being implied, having a ghost like presence, but not sounding; and third, as a jazz work the rhythm section is missing, piano or guitar, bass and drums, the harmonic and rhythmic framework that they usually provide is here, ghost like, carried rather by implication in the surface lines of these 3 melody instruments.
Year composed: 2002
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice
Instrumentation: 1 Alto Saxophone, 1 Trumpet, 1 Violin