Mar 032011

Coltrabazz is a chamber work for double bass and piano in three movements.

It was composed in close cooperation with the amazing duo formed by Apostol Kossev (double bass) and Mariona Sarquella (piano), and I must thank them effusively for all I learned from them about the double bass and chamber music in general, and for all the work they put towards the premiere in De Doelen and the recording for Radio Rijnmond. Working with virtuosi is every composer’s wet dream, you can throw them anything and they will make it happen, even better than you ever imagined it.

Coltrabazz is a fusion of both my classical and jazz backgrounds, so it will doubtlessly disappoint most people from both sides. But I still chuckle every time I listen to it. The piece is based on John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”; I invented a custom harmony system for it, and based the second movement on a small 4-voice canon I wrote over the “Trane Changes” chord progression.

This is the studio recording for Radio Rijnmod, aired on 13/06/2014:

Before getting my hands on that beautiful recording, this post featured a computer rendition, which I leave here as an example of how difficult it is to capture the energy and infinite nuances of a live performance by real, talented musicians:


This is my rendition of Gershwin’s “Fascinating Rhythm” for Metropole formation.

The Metropole Orkest is a Dutch orchestra which combines a bigband with the rich symphonic palette of strings, woodwinds and percussion to perform a wide range of music: jazz, pop, film, etc.

The RSJO (Rotterdam’s Symphonic Jazz Orchestra) is a project within the Rotterdam’s Conservatorium that mimics the Metropole’s setup to give its students the opportunity to approach these popular genres. I had the enormous privilege of being invited to participate in 2006’s edition with one piece, among some fellow-students and teachers.

I had been wanting to arrange “Fascinating Rhythm” for a long time: it is a funny light-hearted tune about how obsessive a certain rhythmic pattern can become when it really gets in your head. I based this arrangement on this little obsession and how the 7/8 pattern implied in the tune’s melody worms its way until it finds accommodation within a straight 4/4 pop-rock style, rather than the usual swing one.

Singer is wonderful Maartje Rikhof: she and everyone else did a smashing job, given the obvious difficulty of the music and the tight time constraints we had to comply with.

I must apologize for the poor quality of the camcorder recording. The guys at the music production department did a multitrack recording with top-notch equipment, but never got around to editing it, so this was the only one I could get my hands on.