Academic journal article Notes

QSF Plays Brubeck

Academic journal article Notes

QSF Plays Brubeck

Article excerpt

Quartet San Francisco. QSF Plays Brubeck. ViolinJazz JCCD106, 2009.

Here is the problem with string quartet arrangements of jazz compositions: jazz is conventionally more or less monodic. Typically the theme, or "head," consists of a single melodic line that is played over a chordal accompaniment, often by multiple soloists playing in unison. Then the various players take turns improvising on the theme; once everyone has had a turn, all unite to play the head again, which ends the performance. So the first challenge in arranging a jazz composition for string quartet lies in one's approach to the head: should the violins play it in unison, or the whole quartet play it in octaves, or should the arranger harmonize it? Once that has been settled, the next question is how and whether the rest of the tune should be arranged. Should the members of the quartet take turns soloing while the others support them chordally? This approach would be truest to jazz tradition but lends itself awkwardly to the quartet format and requires a musical skill set that is often foreign to the training of classical musicians. Or should the arranger create a thoroughly composed version of the tune, treating the head as a theme from which to spin classically-structured variations? This approach tends to create music that does not sound much like jazz, but can be very interesting and rewarding nevertheless, particularly if the arranger is conversant enough with jazz idioms to incorporate them seamlessly. …

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