Test Sample 6
Composed by Elliot Deutsch
I've been told that the technique I used in Test Sample 6 is called polytonality.
The concept was this: I wanted the band to sound like it was playing in two different keys at the same time. The rhythm section and the trombones are grooving in one key. Then the melody enters in a different, harsh sounding key. I was experimenting with the idea that if the melody and harmony move together, the result will be a song that sounds more complex than the sum of its parts.
The rub was that once I had achieved this, I couldn't figure out how to escalate the song any further. As a rule, I try to put the pinnacle of the piece about 75% of the way into the song. As a result, this song (originally named The Slide), sat unfinished for about 6 months. When I finally revisited it, a lightbulb went off... I should make the music get so crazy it explodes. Out of the rubble, we hear a trombone solo. When the melody finally returns, it is completely normal, swinging' super hard. At the very end, I borrowed a cue from the Don Ellis playbook and added a wild tag.
The ensuing piece tells a story. There is a scientist working hard in his laboratory late at night, splicing two different songs together. At first the songs do not want to fuse. But then, when all seems lost, SUCCESS. The song emerges, pristine. But then, nature wins out, the song dies a horrible collapse at the end.
Ken Moran play the tenor sax solo. Since 2008, Ken has played 2nd tenor in the band. Only recently he and his wife moved north to Oakland. I had Ken in mind when I wrote the piece, and it was fitting to have him return to play it.