Klaus Gesing

Music for Voice and Big Band

Ana Pilat - voice

The program Music for Voice and Big Band concentrates on two aspects of my compositional work.

One is my great fondness for uneven rhythms, and the other my fascination for lyrics.

The English jazz singer Norma Winstone has written lyrics to many of my tunes. They can be heard on altogether five publications, the first CD "Chamber Music" on Universal/Emarcy and other four CD publications on the label ECM. Three of these tunes are part of this program.
The magical transformation that happens to a melody when you add lyrics to it, has always fascinated me: it becomes a Song!

Ana Pilat presents these melodies with great warmth, and carries the lyrics with empathy for their content. She combines the necessary simplicity of interpretation with a subtle sense of drama, and elegantly brings both melodies and lyrics to life.

The idea of this project was to find a way of translating the intimacy and melody-based character of my music that had originally started out in a  chamber-music like setting and enrich it with the vast array of harmonic colours and textural layers offered only by the modern Jazz orchestra.

The second main ingredient, uneven rhythms, based on counts of 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, etc., (quarter, eighth or sixteenth notes) can be found in many of the folk musics of the world. They presumably first entered the realm of Jazz with Dave Brubeck’s Take Five and have ever since broadened their presence in modern improvised music.

I have arranged a Greek folk song for this program, which features a 17/8 bar. When listening to its various melodies, one completely forgets that the underlying subdivision is far from usual. This melodic simplicity, moving over a rather intricate rhythm is, to my opinion, one of the most fascinating character traits of many folk songs.

It has therefore been my aim to never use uneven metres for the sake of adding complication, but only for their capacity of enriching the flow of a melody over its underlying rhythmical carpet, thus giving its movement and groove a special momentum.

I have spent several years of my musical life playing in various Big Bands. The inherent generosity of sound of this ensemble, based mainly on wind instruments, its agility, its different hues and endless colour-combinations account for an important part of my musical socialisation. To arrange a program of some of my songs and melodies, originating from a chamber-music context and based on uneven metres for the much larger Big Band ensemble and trying to use the fascinating colour-palette of this orchestra to serve the music in the best possible way, therefore came as a natural consequence.

Klaus Gesing