Friday, September 27, 2013

Memories of Youth - Igor Stravinsky and 'the Herd'??

I was, as I recall,  a sophomore in high school when I first heard a composition, titled Ebony Concerto,  that for me at that time, was a revelation; namely, in  that the piece was commissioned by a great  Jazz clarinetist Woody Herman, and that the commission was directed to Igor Stravinsky, to be performed initially by Herman's band, which was called  The Herd. Unlike Beethoven, who was totally undaunted by writing music for sopranos in his Ninth symphony that some of these ladies called "impossible to sing,"  Stravinsky DID have some trepidation concerning some of the complexities in certain rhythmic areas that might be too much for jazz musicians.
However, the recording, which was released in 1945  or 1946 proved that the Herd could handle the Russian Giant's complexities. For me as a teenager, it was a positively staggering experience to hear this combination of  the music of one of the 2oth century's  most powerful and controversial composers meshing so well with a jazz band.
Why not listen to a truly unique musical experience?
Incidentally, not long after, the legendary jazz pioneer Benny Goodman collaborated with Stravinsky as clarinet soloist in the Ebony Concerto.

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