Here is very different kind of composition, excerpted from my new 275-page essay book, Speaking of Jazz: Essays and Attitudes. I have also published an entire book of Linear Jazz Improvisation exercises and etudes in a book, Blue Rendezvous. The composition itself was written spontaneously as an example while I was teaching an advanced jazz composition student the evolution and the various harmonic extensions of the blues form. Although there are no blue notes, this is obscurely based on the structure of a basic twenty-four-bar blues. Therefore, this is another example of a piece for which I wrote the accompaniment first and the melody afterwards. This is not, however, the way I always compose: The process depends on the circumstances, such as what kind of vehicle Iím looking for, or simply what form of inspiration strikes first.
Blue Rendezvous is an Impressionist-inspired composition which contains elements of that music's salient characteristics, such as a melody completely comprised of unresolved melodic tensions, a salient characteristic of that style, along with non-functional chord successions, slash chords, quartal harmony and pedal points. Melodically, it is based entirely on the perfect fourth interval, which is sequenced in a variety of ways throughout the piece. Rhythmically, it is based primarily on one recurring rhythm, with a second rhythm introduced at the song's climax.
The song begins with a laid-back swing feel in half time. The second eight measures employ two pedal points a half-step apart, which create a feeling of stasis (lack of forward motion), while the melody climbs towards the climax at mm.17-20, where the melody reaches its highest point (high A) while the rhythm section finally shifts into a straight-ahead swing feel for the first time. The last four measures return to the tonic chord, while the melody moves back down for the conclusion of the twenty-four-measure chorus.
Notice the descending root progression at the tuneís end. If we compare this piece to the 24-bar city blues chord changes of T for 8mm. (with a brief visit to SD, before returning to T), SD for 4, T for 4, SD for 2, D for 2, back to T for 4, it is similar: The first 2 (i7 and vi7) are T; the 2nd 2 are SD; back to T for 3; to SubV7sus4 of iv7; to SD essentially for 4; to an active transition area instead of T for 4; to SD for 2, D for 2; back to T (i7, bIII7, bvi7, V7 (turnaround) for the last 4.
While it is true that harmonic substitutions which extend the respective T and SD function areas are mirrored by the melody's descent in 3rds, the overall motivic emphasis is on the implied P4 interval that is only realized in the final 4mm. This suggests that the P4 interval is implied throughout. If you sing half notes on the given melody with an added half note up a P4, you will hear what is implied melodically.
I love playing this tune, not only because it takes me to some unusual places, melodically, harmonically and rhythmically, but mainly because the composition supplies an unusual mood that makes me want to play, which is why I write tunes to begin with: to provide a platform, a vehicle, on which to
improvise. Itís a bear to play.