||"Southeast Alaska suite" by Geoffrey Keezer was written in 2004. This work was commissioned by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and was premiered in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland on Feb. 11 & 12, 2005. There are seven movements to this composition: "Aboard the Karlynn", "Memory, Frozen Blue", "Bowline", "Na Kohola (The Whales)" , "Port Alexander Moon", "Captain Jon", "Safe Haven". Plenty of work for each member of the ensemble. This work will challenge the very best groups. Highly recommended!
"Aboard the Karlynn" in the 1st movement of the "Southeast Alaska Suite" written by Geoffrey Keezer in 2004. This opening movement stands by itself as a major work for an advanced jazz ensemble. The time signature alternates between 7/4 and 4/4. Repeating, sustained piano octaves represent the still water aboard the boat, in relationship to the shifting harmonies of the horns depicting the everchanging scenery of Alaska. The tenor saxophone is the featured soloist. (10:00)
"Memory, Frozen Blue" is the 2nd movement of the "Southeast Alaska Suite" written by Geoffrey Keezer in 2004. This movement stands alone as a complete work as well as a part of the suite. One of the most spectacular sights in Alaska is the glaciers. Inconceivably ancient, they flow slowly and steadily towards the ocean, breaking off into icebergs. Sadly , the glaciers are melting faster and faster with the rising global temperatures. Someday soon they will be gone, and with them, their memories of countless millennia.The "Blue" in the title has a double meaning: the actual color of the ice, and the sadness felt by the composer thinking of their imminent fate. While not specifically in blues form, the improvised middle section contains stylistic elements of blues and funk. The soprano sax is featured throughout. (8:40)
"Bowline" was written by Geoffrey Keezer in 2004. It is the 3rd movement of the "Southeast Alaska Suite". Bowline is the name of a simple knot used to tie a boat to the dock. The pun in the title is intentional, as the melody line is shared by the arco (bowed) bass and the bass clarinet. The bass line/melody is then restated in half-time under the trumpet solo. The composer readily acknowledges the influence of Duke Ellington and Thad Jones in writing this piece. Bass, Bass Clarinet and Trumpet are featured. (7:18)
Available as a PDF.
"Na Kohola" (The Whales) is movement four of the Southeast Alaska Suite by Geoffrey Keezer. This movement depicts a whale sighting and in the program notes the composer states " On our second day out, again with perfectly clear and still water, we encountered a large pod of humpback whales, at least 30 or more. While we did our best to maintain a respectful distance, they literally surrounded our boat, breaching, spy-hopping, diving and inspecting us. Twice we tried to leave, and the whales cut us off, swimming straight at us (to our delight!) , before eventually moving on. They are the greatest and wisest of creatures. I chose the Hawaiian word for the whales, Na Kohola, because many of the whales we met were the Hawaiian humpbacks that migrate thousands of miles each summer to Alaska to feed, returning to Hawai’i in the winter to give birth."
"The opening melody, played by Fender Rhodes piano, is composed in the style of Hawaiian "slack key" guitar, specificially in the manner of Keola Beamer, a great guitarist with whom I have been collaborating recently. This is followed by an ensemble passage in tempo with multiple entrances zigzagging all over, appearing and disappearing. Next comes a group improvisation featuring the piano, flugelhorn, tenor sax, and trombone. Another ensemble passage winds down eventually into the opening guitar-like theme. The entire band gets to be the "pod", coming up for air every now and then. "
Available as a PDF.
"Port Alexander Moon" is the fifth movement of the Southeast Alaska Suite by Geoffrey Keezer. This movement features the piano trio. Waltz tempo. The composer states "We spent one night at this tiny, remote port near the southern tip of Baranof Island. The sky was clear with a bright, full moon overhead. We went for a short walk on the rocky beach, the only sound the soft lapping of the waves on the rocks. The overall feeling was contemplative, sublime, and quite romantic. Piano feature. The band enters on the final chorus.
"Captain Jon" is the sixth movement of the Southeast Alaska Suite by Geoffrey Keezer. This tune features the drummer in a rollicking Latin style with plenty of open-ended solo time. In the words of the composer "Captain Jon (Jon Wikan), was our fearless Captain, who also happens to be an excellent drummer. This was the only movement of the Suite that was actually composed on the boat, at least the first eight bars of the melody. I had brought a small, portable keyboard on board with the noble intent of practicing - but for the most part there was too much to see, fish to catch, anchors to pull up... At one point on our journey the boat had engine trouble and Captain Jon crawled down in the engine roon, switched some fuel lines around, rewired some things, and got us back underway in no time, all the while reassuring us that it was "no big deal". I found out much later just how dangerous our situation actually was. We were only a mile from shore and, had we not been able to start our engine, the tide would have pulled us onto the rocks in a hour’s time." No such dangers in this tune, just pure fun!
Available as a PDF.
"Safe Haven" is the seventh and last movement of the Southeast Alaska Suite by Geoffrey Keezer. This movement is scored in a chorale style with beautiful sounds all round. In the words of the composer "The journey ended in the port town of Sitka, after some rough weather and 15 foot rolling waves on the open ocean. I found out I don’t get seasick (the girls weren’t so lucky). When we arrived in our berth we saw the most beautiful rainbow, a perfect unbroken arch spanning half the sky. This short concluding movement is a reworking of the opening theme of movement one, with an unabashedly happy ending." Great music, great writing. This Suite is well worth the effort. All seven movements will take approx. 45 min. to perform. Highly recommended!
Available as a PDF.