Read a scholarly
review by Hank Davis in the December issue of Victory Review.
Read the program
Welcome and Bemvindos!
for this evening began eleven months ago. While listening to Spanish
guitar music at Benaroya Hall, I recognized in the Iberian music the
familiar roots of jazz. The combination of African, European, Arabic,
Jewish, Gypsy, and Spanish ingredients create a rich cultural stew that
expresses the sadness and hope of being human, much like the blues tradition
in the United States.
I set out to reinterpret
Spanish guitar music for a small jazz ensemble, inspired by the recording
Sketches of Spain by Gil Evans and Miles Davis. I learned that the initial
recording date for that historic work was November 17, 1959 so I booked
this concert for the 50th anniversary. The concert date is also the
second anniversary of my father's death, and I wanted to honor his memory
by doing what for me is most joyful.
Eventually I stretched
away from my original inspiration and toward something closer to my
heart. I found resonance in seresta and the music of Heitor Villa-Lobos.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the 50th anniversary of the
Brazilian composer's passing was November 17!
Seresta is the Portuguese
word for Serenade - music that expresses love by declaring deep personal
feelings of longing and hope. Serenades are performed publicly so the
declaration of love is heard not only by the beloved but also by others
in the community. The personal becomes universal in the act of musical
The serenade has blossomed from informal to formal music in a variety
of world cultures as demonstrated in compositions by Mozart, Brahms,
and Stravinsky. In Brazil, Heitor Villa-Lobos wrote serenades that combined
improvisation from the choro (cry) genre of his Rio de Janeiro home,
with his love of native melodies, all with an added influence by the
harmony of Chopin and Debussy.
I searched hundreds
of Villa-Lobos works to find melodic material suitable for the theme
of seresta. To add improvisation by jazz musicians I removed elements
of the original pieces, altered harmonies, simplified rhythms, changed
meters, and adjusted orchestration. Some pieces you will hear tonight
are close to their original and others have been molded by my musical
I would like to
express my sincere thanks to all the musicians on tonight's program
for their assistance in preparing this music. Special thanks to Marco
de Carvalho for his valuable insights and sensitive suggestions as a
long time student and performer of Villa-Lobos music.
on the song title below to hear a computer rendition of the arrangement)
Anschell - piano
Bill won several Earshot awards recently, toured South America five
times, worked as Musical Director for Nnenna Freelon, and his music
is on the TV shows West Wing and The Wire. His latest recording More
to the Ear than Meets the Eye is on Origin Records.
Busch - percussion
Jeff studied percussion in England and Brazil. His latest project is
Drums and Voices-Contemporary Spirituals with Pat Wright from the Total
Experience Gospel Choir and is funded by a King County Arts grant.
de Carvalho - guitar
Marco is a native of Rio de Janeiro and graduate of the city's Music
Conservatory. He traveled to several cities in the US before settling
in Seattle. He appears on numerous soundtracks and recordings including
three CDs featuring his own compositions. His newest recording is entitled
Goldston - cello
Lori is co-founder of the Black Cat Orchestra, appears on more than
40 recordings, and performed with rock band Nirvana.
Griggs - saxophone
Steve recorded two CDs in Seattle with Elvin Jones and is featured on
the soundtrack the Bungie/Microsoft video game Halo 3: ODST. Steve's
newest project is musical settings for poems by Northwest sculptor James
Ivester - drums
Mark studied gamelan in Java, performs with Jovino Santos Neto, teaches
at Cornish College, and appears on several CDs with Greta Matassa.
Kistler - bass
Chuck began playing music on guitar, appears on several CDs including
Jay Thomas' Blues for JW, and works with many bands such as Milo Petersen
and the Jazz Disciples.
Varner - French Horn
Tom teaches at Cornish College, appears on over 50 recordings, and has
ranked high in Down Beat critics polls for many years. His latest recording
Heaven and Hell is on Omnitone.