That buzz you hear is people in the jazz world and at the University of Virginia talking about this Saturday's premiere of John D'earth's Green Chemistry, a large-scale work for jazz band and a quintet of soloists. As a composer, John has been on a real roll, lately, and there are a bunch of us who can't wait to hear what he's up to now. (Update: I heard a rehearsal last night. Comments at the bottom of this post.)
Formerly based in New York, John directs the university's Jazz Ensemble and plays trumpet in the Free Bridge Quintet, the faculty jazz ensemble. His new composition brings the two groups together in a jazz concerto grosso.
Trumpeter, composer, and Jazz Ensemble director John D'earth.
John says that Green Chemistry is inspired by his enthusiasm for the international "Green Chemistry" movement, which encourages chemists to explore and address environmental problems. He also sees "green chemistry" as a double-entendre because the piece will explore the "chemistry" between teachers and students, where the learning goes both ways. John has designed the piece to spark a creative give and take between the students in the Jazz Ensemble and their teachers in the Free Bridge Quintet.
Those of us who know John and his music would bet our next paycheck that extremely good things are going to happen in Old Cabell Hall on Saturday evening. You'll want to be there, too.
(Click on the poster to see a larger version.)
PS I've just learned that John Warner, author of the seminal book Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, which first described the "Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry," will give a free pre-concert talk on Saturday evening, at 7:00, in 107 Old Cabell Hall(on the same floor of Old Cabell as the auditorium). By all accounts, Warner is a very engaging and quick witted speaker. Read more about the talk, here.
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Update, 25 February 2011: I was lucky enough to hear the Jazz Ensemble and the Free Bridge Quintet rehearse Green Chemistry last night. I liked what I heard -- a lot. Each of the five movements has a separate character -- sometimes funky and sometimes swinging. There's a lovely section in which an Afro-Latin groove propels a gorgeous interplay between flutes, tenor sax, and fluglehorn. And there are one or two occasions when the entire group erupts into short episodes of free improvization. What's probably most impressive is the way that John has woven all of these elements into a seamless whole. It should be a terrific concert.