In honor of Icepocalypse 2015 here in Dallas, I thought I'd take a moment to share a bit about my latest original work for jazz big band —a sort of tone poem piece I'm calling "Frost Point."
I actually started writing this last fall, round about the time it first got kind of chilly. I've always had a soft spot for winter, particularly when it first arrives —those early chills that seem to silence the world. Perhaps it stems from my childhood in North Dakota, where we actually had real winters, which lasted long enough for us to have to learn what was beautiful about them. Those early chills carry an oddly simultaneous sense of both bitter cold and warm light —an expectation of hard times through which joy is forged and strengthened.
Throughout the piece I try to capture that sentiment through the regular juxtaposition of B♭ major and F♯ minor. The two keys share little in common, but can pivot around A, providing that sense of connection between B♭ major's sense of hope and F♯ minor's sense of hardship. As far as instrumentation goes, I've focused in on the flutes and clarinets to give the impression of swirling gusts of chilly wind.
I'm not going to share the full piece here today since I'm hoping to get a live recording from the One O'Clock Lab Band in the next few months. But I thought given the weather around here that it'd be worth sharing a demo of the first section, which introduces a few key themes and the harmonic structures I mentioned. Please enjoy, and stay warm!