TRANSCENDANCE is a work for improvising big band & tap dancer inspired by the ideas and music of Anthony Braxton.
I did a careful reading of Braxton’s 700+ page Composition Notes, Volume C, a book analyzing his significant works composed when he was around my age, many of them for large ensembles. I studied his innovative techniques for combining notation and improvisation, and listened to as many recordings of these works as I could find. Finally, I combined his ideas with my own, and turned them into a full piece that felt suited to the personalities and strengths of the David Kweksilber Big Band players.
Subconsciously I think this music reflects many shared beliefs with Braxton–the power of affirmation, the lack of any natural opposition between notation and improvisation, and the primary goal of music: transcendence. Transcendence of ‘mere music-making’ into a transformative experience for the musicians and audience, transcendence of Clyde Stubblefield’s iconic drum beat on Cold Sweat into an ever-shifting chain of related grooves, and finally transcendence of ‘just a solo’ into a complex web of personal expressions from the composer, the conductor, and each musician in the ensemble.
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