we the people
Reflections of Blue (2017)
The Sidewalk Always Ends (2016)
Little Voices (2016)
Darling, Okay (2016)
Originally this piece was entitled “Dream Catcher” and was performed by the Sonoma State University Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Doug Leibinger in the spring of 2016. After revamping some of my ideas I decided to retitle the tune and attempt it again with the Washington State University Jazz Big Band I. Everyone has been there. Everyone has experienced that horrible, gnawing feeling of sleeplessness. As this is a programmatic work, I attempt to depict sleeplessness through the unsettling clusters, roiling poly-rhythmic patterns, metric modulations, distracting piano solos, and violent homo-rhythmic hits that signify the climax of the tune.
Reflections of Blue
The first presentation of the melody, in its simplest form, appears in the introduction in solo piano. This theme represents the first time a complex idea enters your mind. There is something troubling about the thought and it’s stuck in your head. You you think about it over and over again, trying to break it down piece by piece, until it is unrecognizable. Confusion is something everyone feels, the discontent that comes with misunderstanding. This piece is a sort of theme and variations as I take one simple melody and strip it down to its essence before reassembling it again. Just like a complex idea, the more you break it down to understand its core the easier it is to eventually understand.
The Sidewalk Always Ends
After working with the Boys and Girls Club of Marin and Petaluma for two years, I was able to work with some of the greatest kids on the planet. During my second year I was promoted to Site Director of the Lucchesi Park Clubhouse and it was those kids that inspired this piece. Club meetings happened in the middle of the day, after snack and before programs, and were meant to bring all the kids and staff together for twenty minutes to go over the daily schedule, play a game, and create a sort of bond. During these meetings the kids would always ask me to read them poems out of the book “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein. I used to love those poems when I was a kid. They remind me of the happy innocence of childhood and the immense beauty of working with kids.
WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS - Shel Silverstein
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.
The hardest part about working with kids is when you realize there are monsters in the world. It is nearly impossible to know they are there until it is too late. It has been very difficult for me to come to terms with the evil that could so easily rip away the innocence of a child. It is even harder for me to imagine that I could have been in the presence of one of those monsters and not know. This piece was written in reaction to the horrifying nightmare of knowing I was working with a child abuser. “Little Voices” refers to the child victims that had no voice over the forty years he took advantage of kids all over the Bay Area. Featured throughout the piece are several soloists all depicting the small, little voices of unheard kids with the main solos being in the flute and trombone, which are representative of his last two victims.
Petaluma, CA is a cute little town and it just happens to be where I grew up. As with all little towns, there is a sort of romance associated with the brick buildings, numerous parks, a bustling downtown with quaint storefronts, and the authentic people. I enjoyed Sunday afternoons sitting in the theater district at this little fountain where I could people watch and enjoy some ice cream or coffee. On one particular afternoon, I found a picture lying on the fountain where I normally sat. It was a beautiful picture of the river. It was sweet and worn, as if someone had carried it in their pocket for quite some time. On the back, was a beautifully written message.
You told me,
"Darling, please don't worry
for my passing days.
Sit awhile and hold me close.
won't you stay?"
Love is a complicated and much desired feeling. People spend their entire lives trying to find someone that compliments their soul and some are lucky enough to find it. This piece is supposed to represent the moment when you give in to the warmth of love, the moment you no longer worry about the possibility of loss and only focus on what you have.