There have only been a few sightings of the Taylor Barnett 10-tet. Like a mythological creature, it has remained somewhat of a secret, leaving everyone wondering about its very existence. From its debut at Skyy Jazz Palace in May 2007, to its Style Weekly-featured show at the same venue in August, to Barnett’s VCU faculty […]
There have only been a few sightings of the Taylor Barnett 10-tet. Like a mythological creature, it has remained somewhat of a secret, leaving everyone wondering about its very existence. From its debut at Skyy Jazz Palace in May 2007, to its Style Weekly-featured show at the same venue in August, to Barnett’s VCU faculty recital in November, it has impressed its listeners each time before all but disappearing again.
For Someone, Barnett’s newest album featuring the 10-tet, is proof that the band has been at work during their most recent performance hiatus. Recorded at Songwire Studios between December and March, the album showcases Barnett’s arrangements, compositions, and trumpet playing.
When was the group formed, and what else was going on in your life and your music around this time?
I have been interested in the possibilities of a small big band for some time. I want the flexibility of a chamber group while still having the possibility of generating the power and variety of colors that a large ensemble offers. By having three trumpets, two bones, and two reeds, I can score the music to sound brassy or soft and translucent depending on the orchestration (what instrument is the lead voice, what mutes are used in the brass, etc…)
Trey Pollard and I wrote a few tunes for an 11-piece band in 2005 and since then I have arranged every original tune that I have written for that instrumentation. In 2007 I decided to take more initiative in performing my own music and so I organized a few gigs with a 10-tet (I eliminated the piano to make it easier and less expensive to perform live).
In what ways were your studies with VCU Jazz Arranging professor Doug Richards influential to your composing? Have their been any other major influences in your writing?
Doug Richards was my first composition teacher and gave me a strong foundation in orchestration, harmony, and counterpoint. Besides this, he introduced me to the music and illuminated the techniques of some of the composers that have influenced his style — Ellington, Monk, Mingus, Bach, Ravel, Bartok, and Stravinsky. My study of classical counterpoint, harmony, and form as an adjunct professor of Music Theory and Aural Skills has given me a much deeper set of tools to use to craft my compositions. One of my other major influences is my experience in the Devil’s Workshop Big Band. The band’s use of layered riffs to create very thick textures and the juxtaposition of widely divergent musical styles are characteristics that I incorporate into my music.
What do you hear when you listen to a piece by, say Bartok or the Beatles, and decide to arrange it for the 10-tet? Do you have any kind of procedure for taking existing songs and arranging them your way?
I perceive a character that is present in the original work and I exploit that. For example, in the Beatles’ “Girl,” the harmonic minor melody of the second line, “…all about the girl who came to stay…” and the way Paul falls off the word “girl” in the chorus sounded a little Klezmer to me. The vamp at the end of the song hints at a march so I took those two concepts — Klezmer and march — and let them dominate the character of the arrangement. Also, the storytelling/broken hearted nature of the lyrics inspired me to compose an unaccompanied introduction as a kind of soliloquy by the poor man who is singing about the cruelty of a “Girl.”
Since [the recital in November] I’ve been focused on my family and on
auditioning for doctoral schools (not to mention recording and
producing the album in December-March). Now that I have the album
done, I am going to put a lot of effort into booking the band at
festivals and out of town venues. It is time for me to try and
establish a reputation outside of Richmond.
Richmond couldn’t agree more.
Track listing: Girl; For Someone; Bartók Blues; Mikrokosmos 75 – “Triplets”; What Do You Think Of Me; Cloak & Dagger; I Don’t Know What To Do; Sunday Morning Blues; Ester’s Dance; “Struggles” The Clown.
Personnel: Taylor Barnett: trumpet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn; Rob Quallich: trumpet, piccolo trumpet; Marcus Tenney: trumpet; Jason Scott: tenor sax, clarinet; John Winn: bass clarinet, clarinet; Bryan Hooten: trombone, Reginald Chapman: bass trombone; Trey Pollard: guitar; Randall Pharr: bass; Brian Jones: drums. Plus special guests Ryan Corbitt: piano; Venessa Lopez: flute.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Taylor Barnett 10-tet
For Someone CD Release Party
$5, all ages
[where: 1621 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23220]