Blues for Lester (6-horn jazz ensemble)

Roger M. Aldridge

About this work:

Blues For Lester is an extended piece with an eclectic blend of jazz (with a touch of Monk), funk, contemporary classical, and blues. It is an expression of my admiration for Lester Young, the great tenor saxophonist, who had many quirky qualities in his music. 

This piece draws upon aspects of Lester Young's playing that I admire and have internalized. This includes his horizontal approach to harmony, how he played around with time in his phrasing, used "wrong" notes (from a vertical chord perspective) at times, and had an audacious sense of humor. They are expressed in Blues For Lester in my own style. 

The mid-size ensemble score is for soloist, 5 horns, and rhythm section. The score uses flexible instrumentation. This enables the music to be played by many combinations of instruments. My article on mid-size ensemble describes the concepts I used in this piece. 

The score follows the structure of the lead sheet to a large extent except for an important addition -- after the solo section there is a free-improv interlude for the bass (not included on the recording) that leads into a 32-bar ensemble chorus. The chorus, starting on page 7 of the score, uses phrases from several Lester Young solos (thanks to Tim Price for the transcriptions) that I compositionally stitched together. The chorus starts at the bottom of the ensemble and progressively works its way up through the instruments to a full-ensemble passage with open harmonic voicings and linear writing. 

Recording by David Arivett.

This piece can be purchased at Sheet Music Plus.

Year composed: 2012
Duration: 00:00:00
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice
Instrumentation notes: The score uses flexible instrumentation.

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