Concerto for Six

Perhaps unknown to many people, classical composers often commit outright theft in writing their music. Elements ranging from single chords to orchestrations to entire folk songs can be lifted and inserted into a piece. Composers are apt to reuse good ideas when they come across them, even if they didn’t come up with it in the first place. While not exactly frowned upon, it’s hardly endearing to find that a highly regarded composer plays fast and loose with another’s music.  In the jazz world, something similar occurs, but in a remarkably different context. Here, composers and improvisers will frequently quote parts of famous melodies and solos by the Greats in their own works and improvisations. This is less theft than tribute.

I took my cue for Concerto for Six from the latter sentiments. In this piece I have borrowed both music and concepts liberally, basically those that are my favorites. Among the famous examples are hints of Stravinsky (who is himself reputed to be the master thief among composers) and an entire organ prelude by J.S. Bach, “Ich Ruf Zu Dir, Herr Jesu.” Less well known examples are bits of music by my friends.

Among the concepts, I borrowed both from the baroque and from jazz, especially the idea of a baroque concerto, not necessarily featuring soloists as setting different groups of musicians against each other, and “trading 4’s” with the drums and rest of the ensemble bantering with each other in groups of four measures.


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