ONE WORLD JAZZ SUITE

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The first perfomance of the One World Suite was on Sunday 19th October in St Bartholomew's Church, Brighon. You can see and hear many of the pieces played at that gig if you click on this link.  The guest soloist was Mihály Borbély.

Mihaly Borbely

Mihály is a brilliant Hungarian sax player, composer and teacher. Here is a review about him.


So what do I mean by a One World Jazz Suite? Well, I am very much a believer in the concept of One World. We all live on one planet. Global warming is affecting all of us, what happens in one country has a knock-on affect with other countries. Epidemics, large-scale storms and radiation, don't recognise state borders. Thanks to the media, we all know about disasters, natural or man-made disasters affecting any part of the world and we can or rather should empathise with the people affected and do something about it. Failure to do so is a blot on our own humanity.

On a positive note, the richness of so many different cultures throughout the world is something we can all share in and cherish. We should also appreciate what people in other countries do which benefits us. Co-operation not competition, to put it in a nutshell.

There is an organisation called One World Week which focusses on these issues. Many years ago the peace and development group I was involved in used to put on events during this week. Some organisations still do so. This is my contribution to it, except that I think the ideas of co-operation between peoples and an end to conflict should not be confined to just one week.

From a musical standpoint, I cannot replicate the music of other cutures. They are far too complex and I would be immersing myself totally in world music. The music is therefore a fusion between jazz on the one hand and elements of other genres of music on the other. Furthermore, the music then has to be accomodated into my own style and made to fit the line-up of the band, now augmented by the addition of a guitarist and a sixth sax/flute player. The music is therefore an amalgam. It will allow me to incorporate different elements from other music forms but without being held hostage by them.

Please note that the soundbites were recorded at the first or second run-through at rehearsal using just one mic. Better and more polished recordings will replace them when available.

January-mid-February 2014

India

The first new number is dedicated to a young Indian boy living in Brighton called Nemo. He will be a day off his second birthday at the time of the October conert. We have known his parents since they were at Sussex University and attended their Hindu wedding in Kolkata a few years ago. I act as a surrogate grandfather to him and had to feed him his first rice (an important ceremony to Hindus). Here he is playing bongos.

Nemo

The piece is called Nemocracy or to give it a longer title: The Nemocratic Republic of Brighton and Hove. It borrows a few elements of classical Indian music with a nod towards a more funky approach. I wanted to write a Bollywood piece but couldn't. Here is the first part of the tune: . .

Here is a video of the tune at the concert.




Russia

I have also made some big band arrangements of some small band pieces I have written but which have been put on the digial bottom drawer for years although you can find them in the small band section of this website. One of these is a pseudo-Russian piece called До свидания, roughly pronounced Da Sveedanyah meaning Goodbye

I have always liked the very long melodies written by composers like Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and other Russian composers. This is a long tune, very much in the II/V/I tradition, but hopefully still interesting. To see some pictures of the Russian countryside, type in Images for Russian Landscape in Google search. This is the beginning of the tune: . .

Here is the tune in concert.




Arctic Circle

Another old piece I have arranged is Arctic Circle. This is a cold area of the world encompasing Scandinavia, Northern Canada, Greenland, and the Arctic cap ice-cap and I have tried to conjure this up in music. But it is also an area that is affected by global warming, so that gives me a reason for heating up the music a little bit. I wish combatting global warming was as easy as doing this...in reverse.

arctic circle

Here is the tune: . .


China

Another piece I have arranged for big band called The Quickest Way to Chins - Down!. This is a pun on China-town. I changed it to down to refer to the China syndrome which was mentioned a lot at the time of the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown. Not much in the way of genuine Chinese music in this, apart from the ad lib flute intro, but I would lose a jazz audience if I went too far down that road. The tune is mostly harmonised in fourths, which is a cliché but sometimes you can't really avoid them. You can hear the intro and tune here: . .


February 18th

Brazil

Now finished a big band version of my bossa nova Este é para você. The translation is: This is for you. I wrote it for a Brazilian waitress who used to work in the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne where I worked as a solo pianist. I love Brazilian music (and waitresses too!) but in Brazil the older music - sambas and bossa novas - are nowadays regarded as old hat by some of the younger generation. What a pity! The world cup tune made me cringe - to me it was simply awful, but I'm an old fart. If you want to hear rap, go to a poetry-reading class. Here is my bossa nova. Apologies to young people who will hate it. . .


February 25th

Hungary

Another arrangement done - A Kiss for Lady Eleanor  or in Hungarian (correct me if this is wrong, someone) Egy Csok a Lady Eleanornák. Let me explain this. Lady Eleanor Charlotte Augusta Dawson, who was born in 1885 and married Lord Aubrey Nugent Wade-Palmer in 1906. They went to Balatonalmádi, Hungary for some reason in the late 1910s where she had an affair with a gypsy violinist called Janos Kiss, or rather Kiss Janos for any Hungarians reading this. She married him in 1920. So this gave me the idea for a piece which contrasts the stiff-lipped British aristocracy (the first bit of the tune) with the hot-blooded romantic nature of the gypsies (Roma) which comes after that. This is the tune: .


March 1st

Peace

Another arrangement done. I don't believe in strangers is a tune I wrote a few years ago. My justification for using it is that governments and the media try and convince us that people in certain other countries are our enemies. When you de-humanise other people it makes it easier to harm them, ie. go to war with them, torture them, etc. It's an old trick but always seems to work. We must be aware of this and not go along with it. People are people everywhere, with the same needs, feelings and desires. The only people who have lost touch with this fact are politicians (at least many of them) and extremists for whatever dogma has taken hold of them. I think you could also include people (unfortunately there are a lot of them) who design, manufacture or sell weapons of war, particularly weapons of mass destruction. Most of the wars now going on are between governments, elected democratically or not, and the ordinary people. Here is the start of this tune: .

Here is the tune played at the concert.




March 3rd

Japan

Just starting to write out a new arrangement. It was formerly known as Hibakusha, but I have retitled it as Tsukuyomi - no - mikoto - the Shinto God of the moon as any Japahese person would know. There is a lovely legend about him. He was the brother of the Goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu Omikami. One day she was invited to a feast given by the Goddess of Food, Uke Mochi, but was unable to go so she sent her brother along instead. To produce the food, Uke Mochi turned to the oceans and spat out fish, then she turned to the forest and out came game, and then she turned to a rice paddy and rice came out of her mouth. Tsukuyomi was disgusted at this and killed her. When the sun goddess learned what had happened she was very angry and resolved never to look at him again. This is the reason why the sun and the moon are never in the sky at the same time. Sounds perfectly plausible to me. This is for Miwa, a very adventurous Japanese lady I know. Here is the tune: .


March 21st

Iran

Finished another piece - Namzadi. This is the Farsi word for "engagement" (between a man and woman). I have a very good Iranian friend who recently became engaged and shortly afterwards married a lovely lady in Tehran. To celebrate the fact I wrote this tune. I also wanted to emphasize a happy occasion which people all ovcr the world will be able to identify with. I am delighted that his sister said that the start of the tune sounds like Persion background music. Here it is: .

Here is the tune in concert.




Spain

Now I will turn my attention to a Spanish piece called Tapas. Oh dear, afficianados of different other musical genres will hate me, but all I'm trying to do is to suggest the music of other countries, mixed with jazz. Having listened to some flamenco guitarists, I feel that it is closer to the spirit of the music than Ravel's Bolero with its insistent never-ending boom boompati boom rhythm. Sorry, Maurice, it's a great tune but it does go on a bit. You needed some improvisation in it or a jazz drummer, if you ask me. Here is part of the tune: . .


6th April

Argentina

Just finished writing out the parts for a big band version of my piece La Baile con Maquiavelo (Dancing with Macciaveli). This is a sort of tango. Having to play for ballroom dancing in the past, I always dreaded tangos - that unrelenting heavy four-beat rhythm we play in Europe for dancers who move stiffly about as if they've messed their pants. So I wrote this piece as a parody For a start, the intro (usually when the dancers count 4 bars) I made into 5 bars with lots of syncopation. I added an extra bar to the end of the tune (hopefully almost undetectable) Then halfway through I slowed to half-tempo for 8 bars followed by an accelerando back to the original tempo. Finally I stuck in a few odd 3/4 bars near the end. This arrangement will definitely throw the dancers in Britain anyway - my revenge on those dancers who give musicians a hard time (most don't, but there are some who do), I have looked at a lot of clips of tango dancing in Argentina - so sensuous, elegant and flowing. What a contrast! Take a look at this:


I expect Argentians could cope with this arrangement, but certainly not the Brits. Here is the tune from the concert.


April 25th

South Korea

I have finished off another arrangement called Seoul Lady . It is about a lovely lady I know from South Korea. She studied at Sussex University too. She has now returned to Seoul and got married. He is such a really nice chap and one Christmas both of them stayed with us. Here it is.


San Salvador

This tune is a tribute to Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assasinated by gunmen as he was celebrating mass in his church in San Salvador in 1980. He was a champion of the poor and oppressed and spoke out against militarism and torture. We need more people like that now. A tremendously brave man who should be remembered for all time. Rather than use San Salvadorean folk music, I have used a combination of various kinds of Latin music for this piece to reflect the fact that he was greatly admired by people throughout Latin and South America. This is part of the tune: . .


May 13th

Burma

Finished an arrangement of my tune The Aung San Suu Kyi Song. I found it difficult to use genuine Burmese music style, so have gone for an exotic sound mixed with a traditional English style in keeping with her life - she went to Oxford University and married an Englishman so I feel justified in so doing. As everyone knows she was elected Prime Minister and was arrested in a military coup and placed in house arrest for a number of years. When the miliary act against the interests of their own country you have to wonder what is the point of having any armed forces. Countries would be better off without them and follow the example of Costa Rica. So here is my tune: . .

Here is the tune at the conert.




7th May

France

I've been thinking of writing a big band arrangement of La Fille qui Aime Danser but decided instead to turn it into a quartet piece, as a relief from the more intense big band sound. All done now - here it is: .


End of June

Trinidad

Finished off all the remaining tunes for this concert. One of them is a calypso called Trinidad. In my youth I spent a few years in the West Indies. The music at that time was calypso as it was before the advent of reggae and ska. This piece reminds me of the wonderful islands of the Caribbean and the friendly inhabitants of those islands. .

United Nations

Although the United Nations needs some reforming (particularly the Security Council), the world would be a lot more insecure and dangerous without the organisation. There are a number of UN bodies which do a fantastic job: WHO (The World Health Organisation), UNICEF (The United Nations' Children Fund), UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation). UNHCR (the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) to name but a few. I have called this tune: We, the peoples... This is taken from the Preamble to the UN Charter - click to read. .

Changes

There is another piece which has two titles - White Magic and Time for a Change. The latter title has two meanings. Musically, it refers to the changes of time signature within the tune itself. Policically, it suggests that politicians and ordinary people need to change their stone-age mentality of fighting each other and adopt an attitude of cooperation to deal with the threats of global warming, and the depletion of natural resources. The other title I included because I wanted to pay tribute to a young woman with the surname White who has shown great courage in the face of severe health problems. This is a difficult tune and here is our first go at it: .

South Africa

I am also including in the concert a tune I wrote a long time ago called Mr Mandela I wrote this when he was still a prisonner in Robben Island for his opposition to the apartheid regime in South Africa. You can see the video I made with this title here when I was leading the Sussex Jazz Orchestra.



That is the end of the One World Suite, well at least Part 1, as there are a lot of other countries I have not included. For Part 2, click here

go to the 2nd part of the Old World Jazz Suite

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