Marcel Worms ’10 years of New Blues for Piano’. Recording made at the BIMhuis on 11 September 2006.
Pianist Marcel Worms started this project in 1997, for which he asked composers from all over the world to write music with blues-like characteristics. Doing that, they did not necessarily have to keep to the blues charts; it was more about making music in the spirit, or the ‘soul’, of blues. The result was a colourful variety of about 165 compositions, of which a big number has appeared on 3 CDs.
On 11 September, Marcel Worms performed his jubilee concert at the Bimhuis, during which many of the new acquisitions could be heard.
PROGRAMME ‘10 YEARS OF NEW BLUES FOR PIANO’ BIMHUIS – MONDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 2006, 9.00 PM
1.Ian Munro (Australia, 1963) – Dismal Blues (2004) 2’30’’
2.Ross Edwards (Australia, 1943) – Kangaroo Valley Blues 1’ (2005) 3.Elena Kats-Chernin(Australia, 1957) – Economy Class Blues 2’30’’ (2004) 4.Abdala El-Masri (Lebanon, 1962) – J’Imali Wali (2003) 4’ 5.Ali Osman (Egypt, 1958) – Afro Arab Blues (2005) 4’ 6.Robert Nasveld (Netherlands, 1955) – Frozen Blues (2002) 4’
7.Jack Body (New Zealand,1944) – John Lee’s Pluck (2004) 4’ Mary-Lou’s Dream (2004) 6’ 8.John Lewis (England, 1947) – Molybdenum (2003) 7’ 9.Nicholas Sibicky (USA, 1983) – Blues for Zephyr (2005) 1’30’’ 10.Martin Fondse (Netherlands, 1967) – All Right, All Rite (2005) 5’ Sample Minds (2005) 1’30’’
P A U Z E 11.Haskell Small (USA, 1948) – Scraps (2006) * 3’ 12.Chris Gendall – Where it hits (2006)* 4’ (New Zealand, 1980) 13.Svitlana Azarova (Ukraine, 1976) – Valentina Blues (2006) * 4’ 14.Riad Abdel-Gawad (Egypt, 1965 ) – Longa Nahawand (2002) 5’ 15.Mikhail Kohzhayev – Blues in the form of 4’ (Armenia, 1946 ) an apricot tree (2005) 16.Evrim Demirel (Turkey, 1977) – Blues Extended (2006)* 4’30’’ 17.Allan Segall (USA, 1959) – Nine Eleven + Five -An Elegy (2006)* 5
18.Mathieu Polak (Netherlands, 1972) – Der Gasn Nigun (2006)* 4’30’’
19.Riccardo Massari Spiritini – Blues Records (2003) 7’30’’ (Italy, 1966) 20.Anat Fort (Israel, 1970) – Marce Bars (2003) 4’
All pieces were written for Marcel Worms
(English quotes of ‘native speakers’ were not translated)
Ian Munro – Dismal Blues
“Dismal Blues is an arrangement of the Whitlam Rags, a joint project between three composers, Russell Gilmour, Raffaele Marcellino and Ian Munro, during which they all parodied Gough Whitlam, former First Minister of Australia, and made an homage to him. Whitlam was a tempestuous politician, who was discharged disgracefully from his office in 1975 by Governor General Sir John Kerr,
representative of the English queen in Australia. Dismal Blues refers to the dismissal and to the blues, under which Whitlam and his Labor were weighed down, as well as Debussy in his jesting homage to Charles Dickens – Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C. -, after the ostentatious, ceremonial display of the Governor. The piece was pretty much entirely based on the British national anthem God Save the Queen. “ – Ian Munro
Ross Edwards – Kangaroo Valley Blues
Ross Edwards, Australia’s most famous living composer, wrote ‘Kangaroo Valley Blues’ as a gift for the 60th birthday of his colleague Martin Wesley-Smith and his twin brother Peter. Both live in the Kangaroo Valley, some 90 kilometres south of Sydney.
Elena Kats-Chernin – Economy Class Blues “Economy Class Blues is, as the title suggests, a light view on the world of travelling and the annoying aspects of it, such as sitting all packed together in smaller and smaller airplane seats, especially on the long flight from Australia to Europe.
It is my somewhat laconic reaction to the idea of a society with two (or more) classes. The piece’s stubborn character feels somewhat absurd, and it can hardly be called real blues, though it does contain a fair number of ‘blue notes’. The title can also be seen as a reference to the small number of chords and motives that are being used. In other words, the work is also an economy class composition.” – Elena Kats-Chernin
Abdallah El-Masri – J’Imali Wali
This music was originally written as an improvisation to an Iraqi folk song for the ‘Life Theater’ in Kuwait. My goal in writing this piece was to write something simple and acoustic without losing my style.
J’imali wali is and old colloquialism, that roughly expresses the following:
Nobody asks for me,
family nor friends
my youth is a thing of the past
even my camel has gone
-Abdallah El-Masri Ali Osman – Afro-Arab Blues “This piece was pretty much based on two rhythmic patterns that are common in traditional Arab music. I incorporated Sudanese rhythms into the first part, in the second part I have used Arab modi and five-tone scales” – Ali Osman
Robert Nasveld – Frozen Blues
“In my Three Pieces for Piano, the pianist’s specific order was to use the piano’s interior mechanism. I asked myself what a composer could add to such a design.
A similar question arose when Marcel Worms asked me to provide a contribution for his blues project. After listening to his CD, I immediately knew that I wanted to make a piece in which only vague bits would remind one of the blues. Sheets, virtuoso loops and heaps of notes; they were all there during the many speculations. Eventually I threw all ‘ballast’ overboard and chose for simplicity.” – Robert Nasveld
Jack Body – John Lee’s Pluck en Mary-Lou’s Dream "These two pieces are solo piano arrangements of two of the three movements of ‘Tribute to the Blues’, for clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano. The arrangements were made especially for Marcel Worms. Although to the uninitiated blues can sound formulaic and repetitive, in the hands of great performers the genre can express raw, deep emotion in ways that other musical styles struggle to do. Movement 1 is a fairly literal transcription of a classic Hooker recording, while the second is a kaleidoscopic ‘cut&paste’ from a Williams score, where fragments of piano blues appear and disappear, as in a turbulent dream." – Jack Body
John Lewis – Molybdene
This boogie-woogie, written in an unusual 10/8 time, is a part of The Chemical Elements cycle by English composer and pianist John Lewis. The titles of the pieces refer to the wealth of colour of the corresponding element.
Molybdenum is a hard, silver white metal.
Nicholas Sibicky – Blues for Zephyr “I personally had always thought that Zephyr would be a beautiful name for a child, particularly for a girl. After mentioning this to the girlfriend I had at the time, my girlfriend immediately made clear to me that no child of ours would ever possess that name! She also believed that any sane wife that I would ever have would despise that name as strongly as she did. So, to mourn thge name of any of my future daughters will probably not possess, I wrote Blues for Zephyr “ – Nicholas Sibicky
Martin Fondse – All Right, All Rite en Sample Minds For my bluesproject, pianist and composer Martin Fondse wrote 11 short blues-like pieces, based on the 11 letters in my name. The blues history spans some 11 decades and each piece is connected to one of those decades.
‘All Right, All Rite’ (based on the second letter in my name, the A) refers to the second decade, 1910-1920, during which Strawinsky wrote his ‘Rite of Spring’ (‘Sacre du Printemps). Its première in 1913 can be seen as the start of modern, 20th-century music. In ‘All Right, All Rite’ the musical material was clearly derived from the ‘Sacre’.
‘Sample Minds’ is about the current decade (2000-2010) and so this part (based on the last letter in my name, the S) has been numbered 10 1/2 instead of 11. It is a homage to many of the great pianists in jazz history, that pass in review really quick…(MW)
Haskell Small – Scraps – 12 very little pieces of blues and jazz “True to my name, I have always been fascinated with miniatures. An earlier chamber piece of mine, Twelve Snippets, consists of individual movements no longer than ten seconds each. Loosely following this model, Scraps is a grab bag of teeny bits of blues and jazz. Note particularly no.10, a thirty-second fugue, and no.11, a fantasy, both of which feature echoes earlier ideas. A five-second coda then serves as the work’s finale.”- Haskell Small
Chris Gendall – Where it hits “So much of my favourite music – funk, soul and jazz – all have connections to a musical lineage set in flight by the blues. I was predictably excited when Marcel asked me for a piece for this project. This was a chance to not only draw direct influence from the music that shaped my world but also to effect a certain boogie-woogie pianism. Where it hits was made possible with funding from Creative New Zealand.” – Chris Gendall
Svitlana Azarova – Valentina Blues
“Valentina’s blues was written as an ‘In memoriam’ for my mother, who died close to the turn of the year 2006. I completed the work the day before Valentine’s Day. The structure of the piece is classical, but with new characteristics. At the start I used a few blues elements, that recur later. The shape is based on contrasts: contrasts in rhythm (blues elements, toccata) and in tempo (rubato, andante)” – Svitlana Azarova
Riad Abdel-Gawad – Longa Nahawand “My ancestral roots in Afro-Asian culture and equally my native upbringing in American culture perform as agents to my creativity. My cultural background provides a wealth of designs that both nurtures and inspires. For example, in Longa Nahawand for solo piano, I incorporate traditional Western techniques including: triadic and chromatic tonality, counterpoint, and sonorities of eleventh and thirteenth chords and parallel and quartal harmony, together with Afro-Asian indigenous forms, and of that, there is for example, a particular pre-composed form (longa), a voluntary instrumental improvisation (taqaseem) and a particular melodic mode, (nahawand) as they are called in Arabic.” – Riad Abdel-Gawad
Mikhail Kohzhayev – Blues in the form of an apricot tree In the Armenian landscape, apricot trees are quite common. The composer was also inspired by the paintings of Martiros Saryan, one of Armenia’s most famous landscape painters.
Evrim Demirel – Blues Extended
“As indicated by the title, this piece was based on a simplistic form of blues. That form has been hidden though, and the quarter movement as found in standard blues, only sporadically appears. Phrasing
and rhythmic complexity are far removed from the origin of blues, but the atmosphere calls up the feeling of blues in a new sense.” – Evrim Demirel
Allan Segall – Nine Eleven + Five – An Elegy 9/11+5 – An Elegy, a piece commemorating the 5th anniversary of 9/11, was written for Marcel Worms in August of 2006. My conception of 9/11+5 was to take a 30s Gershwinesque song (actually a piece of my own composition -as I love that period of American-pop/jazz because it evokes a New York City for me as nothing else ever can). I then proceeded to break the song apart, not so much with violence (indeed there are piano pieces about 9/11 that do contain crash clusters) but, perhaps more subtly with interruptions of overtones/harmonics resulting from previously stated material. This subsequently (and what might be experienced as a disturbing effect) can be heard as a loss, a decay, a disintegration of what for many years, was my home town.” – Allan Segall
Mathieu Polak – Der Gasn Nigun
Der Gasn Nigun derives its blues status for the most part from what happens in the left hand. The focus is on elements as the lazy – swing and sevenths. In addition, the harmonic progression is being driven by the twelve-time blues sheet.
The starting point for Der Gasn Nigun (Yiddish: street song/melody) was a classical Klezmer melody of the same name. Though literal quotes can scarcely be found, the song has inspired me to take up the pen.
Listeners’ reactions show that the piece summons multiple emotions at once. This experience of ‘the sun shines while it rains’ intrigues me. One of the causes might be the simultaneous performance of tonality and atonality towards the end. On top of that, the carillon chords that are common in my work, also play a prominent part in Der Gasn Nigun. A characteristic of these sounds is equivocality, in which major and minor can be heard at the same time – Mathieu Daniël Polak
Riccardo Massari Spritini – Blues Records
“What is a gramophone record and what does a blues record mean to me? I associate the sound of a piano with the sound of my old vinyl records. Crackling, dusty sounds but also the sound of ‘brushes’ of percussion and low voices, homely sounds…..
The idea behind this piece is to create a certain mental state. Memory plays an interesting part in music, and in sorting sounds in your mind. This piece is a sort of stream of consciousness – in the sense of Joyce – of personal memories that I have associated with the sounds of blues.” – Ricardo Massari Spiritini
Anat Fort – Marce Bars
‘Marce Bars is probably not like anything you imagine when you think of the average blues. But Marcel is also not the average pianist. He asked me to write this piece for him even before we knew each other, and because I often play my own pieces, I found it exciting to write something that would be performed by another pianist for a change…I wasn’t ready for it until after I had met him and we had eaten and laughed in Amsterdam with his family. When I returned to New York, and later in Israel, I wrote the piece. I believe that all people and locations involved have been incorporated into it’ – Anat Fort
Marcel Worms www.marcelworms.comProducer: