Wycliffe Gordon has enjoyed an extraordinary career as a performer, conductor, composer, arranger, and educator, receiving high praise from audiences and critics alike. Gordon tours the world performing hard-swinging, straight-ahead jazz for audiences ranging from heads of state to elementary school students. Gordon received the Jazz Journalists Association Award for Trombonist of the Year in 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, and 2008, the Critics Choice Award for Best Trombone in 2000, and the ASCAP Foundation Jazz Vanguard Award in 2007.
Notes from the Composer
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
"Fanfare" from I Saw the Light
Performed by the Brass Band of Battle Creek
I Saw the Light is a composition for brass band commissioned by the Brass Band of Battle Creek and premiered in March 2004. This piece was written to pay homage to one of Michigan’s greatest citizens, Muhammad Ali. The Fanfare is the opening number in a suite of eight movements designed to capture the essence of Ali and his life’s struggles as well as his victories.
The Fanfare is the majestic announcement of the Great One’s arrival—to the earth, to the boxing ring, to Olympic Gold, to Allah, and to the rest of the world. The physical light came first, when he opened his eyes as an infant to see the world around him. The second light was the one that came when he began to box and decided that he would one day be the greatest. The third light was the realization that greatness may be on the horizon after he (as Cassius Clay) brought the Olympic Gold home to the United States in 1960.
The opening statement made by the trumpets is an announcement that of the arrival of the Great One is on the horizon. This is followed by the chanting of “Ali” and is soon joined by the rest of the ensemble, making individual section contributions as offerings and gifts of accolades and commendations to Ali for his greatness. The final statement is obvious. Fanfaric!
Welcome to Georgia Town
Trombone: Wycliffe Gordon, Trumpet: Marcus Printup, Alto Saxophone: Jeff Clayton, Tenor Saxophone: Walter Blanding, Jr., Piano: Eric Reed, Bass: Roland Guerin, Drums: Willie Jones III
“Welcome to Georgia Town” is the last movement of an eight-movement composition commissioned by the Savannah Music Festival and premiered in March 2008. Though most welcomes come at the beginning of things, this movement closes our suite, stating its greeting after the listener has taken a musical journey through the life of the composer.
The movement starts with singing in the style of a barbershop quartet, performed by the instrumentalists (who rarely sing in public, hence the supportive laughter of the live audience) as a parody of the style. Then comes the solo vocalist, delivering the “welcome” right into the swinging, and then scatting along with the horn section as it depicts a joyous dance celebration for the listener at the end of the tour of Wycliffe Gordon’s life. The song has no real ending, as the invitation is meant to be open-ended for the listeners.
“Welcome to Georgia Town”
Hello my friends, Welcome to Georgia Town
The folks are here, they come from all around
“Hello, Hello!!” they say, “How do you do today?”
While others wave, and smile, then keep on their way
But that’s not all, the hospitality
Come One, Come All!!!! Yes, (that’s) you and me
You’re not alone; Feel right at home (yesss)
Right here in Georgia Town