Sunday, June 29, 2014

New Big Band Composition Debuted by the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra

My latest composition for jazz orchestra, "It Was Whispered", was debuted on June 27th, 2014 by the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra.  The concert took place at Christ and St. Stephen's Church in New York City.  Here is the video footage:

To a degree, this piece was inspired by Ornette Coleman. I am fond of the short, folksy, poetic melodies he writes, and wanted to capture this aesthetic within the context of a fully-developed large ensemble piece. My challenge/balancing act was evoking the essence of "free jazz" while retaining enough compositional control to avoid the chaos of mass, collective, free improvisation.

The soloists were:  Satoshi Takeishi (drums), Marc Phaneuf (alto sax), JC Sanford (trombone), Dave Smith (trumpet)

The band roster is as follows:
Woodwinds:  Marc Phaneuf, Ben Kono, Dan Willis, Rob Middleton, Alden Banta
Trumpets:  Dan Urness, John Eckert, Steve Smyth, Dave Smith
Trombones: Tim Sessions, Pete McGuinness, JC Sanford, Jennifer Wharton
Rhythm:  Sabatian Noelle (guitar), Deanna Witkowski (piano), Dave Ambrosio (bass), Satoshi Takeishi (drums)

This was a fun, celebratory way to wrap up my yearlong affiliation with the BMI Jazz Composers' Workshop.

Here I am, posing with the workshop's director, one of my strongest musical influences, Jim McNeely:

Earl MacDonald and Jim McNeely.
...ever up and onward!


  1. Darned good band and very strong piece! Congratulations!

    1. Thanks Richard. It was a true pleasure working with this fine band. I consider myself very fortunate. All the best... Earl