Rhythms & Blues: American Piano Music CD (2011)
China Gates, for piano classical music CD Rhythms and Blues: American Piano MusicIn a nutshell, this music is mostly jazzy or minimalist, and I find each style contrasts nicely with the other. When I chose these selections, I wasn't originally looking for much of a theme; all were pieces I wanted to play, and it made sense to group them together since they're all composed in America.
It turns out, though, that there are a couple of underlying threads here. One is the music of Africa, with its harmonies, rhythms, and organizing patterns. Ragtime, jazz and the blues, of course, all began as African American music, and minimalism shares many similarities with (and in many cases, owes a huge debt to) African rhythmic patterns. Another thread running through this music is a tension between notation and improvisation. These pieces are written out note for note, but take much of their form and content from improvised styles. My job as performer is then to try to make the notated music sound improvised. I have found that these disparate works resonate with each other in surprising and enjoyable ways. The drumming patterns from Ghana in Rubin's Grace make Adams's China Gates sound both familiar and new. Parts of Bolcom's The Serpent's Kiss and Scherzinger's When One Has the Feet of Wind and Jelly Roll Morton's Finger Buster ...