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Performance Investigation: Bolling Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio: Baroque and Blue

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Performance Investigation: Bolling Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio: Baroque and Blue In this investigation I will examine two recordings of Baroque and Blue from the Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio (composed by Claude Bolling in 1975). The first is the original recording made by Bolling with French flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal recorded in the same year. The second recording was made in 2004 by Laurel Zucker. 'This suite has been composed for a "classic" flute and a "jazz" piano. The style of writing for each instrument is somewhat different. It should be interesting to bring out those oppositions in the interpretation'.1 This is important when one plays this piece as there is a significant variation in interpretation of this statement. There are considerable differences in the two different recordings even before we start to look at the music. The Bolling recording was done with Bolling's standard trio and with him playing a period piano which gave the recording a big band sound and this is also reflected in the mixing of the piece, in which you can almost imagine it being recorded in a jazz club. This is in direct contrast to the Zucker's recording in which all the members had not met but were top studio or concert musicians. The studio mix meant that the result was a very clean, very technically accurate recording, although possibly losing some of the authenticity and spontaneity which one feels while listening to the Bolling recording. Both have different flutes which affects the quality and tone of the sound. Rampal was famous for having a special custom made Boston gold flute which he claimed created a much warmer sound. This contrasts with Zucker's solid silver flute which has a clear but otherwise bland sound. When one takes a look at the previous recording histories of these artists it becomes clearer why there is such a difference in the two recordings. ...read more.


Bolling on the other hand wanted a more authentic jazz experience and went for one take recordings, and as a result in the second bar of KK, the tonal quality of Rampal drops with a slightly cracked note. However this is the only occasion in the recording, and rather than detracting from it, it adds to the authenticity and spontaneity of the recordings. This is similar in recent years to computer generated sounds of guitars having recorded fret noises added to them to make them more believable. When one looks at Zuckers previous recording history, it is not surprising that there is a fairly consistent vibrato running through the piece. This can be seen on the last note of D where there is a heavy vibrato played on the note. Interestingly, Rampal does the same in this occasion. Zucker in this recording has two 'colours'. Her 'Baroque colour' (found around the Baroque sections) consists of a slight vibrato throughout and a heavier vibrato on longer notes. This is coupled with an emphasis on accents and articulation. The second colour can be found between U and W and between PP and the end and this is a much more spiky tone with a stronger vibrato throughout. In contrast Rampal has a bright tone throughout. This is coupled with vibrato on accented and long notes in Baroque sections. Rampal has a wonderful clear tone which is fairly simple. This could be for a number of reasons: 1) flute technology of the time or 2) choice. Whatever it was it is ideally suited to this piece where one is required to change style/articulation and emphasis very quickly. There are a number of different articulation patterns in this piece. The most prominent is one that I shall refer to as the 'Baroque'. This consists of one staccato, followed by two slurred (starting with an accent) and then staccato. ...read more.


"Jean-Pierre listened and, with a spontaneous enthusiasm, told me: "I love jazz without knowing how to play, but I dream of having an experience with jazz musicians. Write me something that is classic for my flute and jazz for you." "I was really taken by considering this request as a real challenge. It was a little bit of a crazy gamble!" Over the weeks, the first three movements were born from the pen of Claude Bolling. The "Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio" was born. 6 Being one of the men behind the original idea, one might expect Rampal had a good idea of how he wanted to play it, and as one of the great supporters of cross over music which meant he was used to playing different styles of music. Bolling was playing with his usual group and has considerable success as a jazz pianist. As it was his own composition it feels naturally easy and comfortable under his hands even if the piano part is technically as difficult as the flute part if not harder. Appendix 2: Email correspondence between Elliot Black and Claude Bolling To: Claude Bolling From: Elliot Black Date: March 25th 1.15pm Dear Sir I am an A level student studying at a 6th form College in Britain. For part of my music A - Level, I am required to compare two recordings of a piece which I am then expected to perform in a recital. As I play the flute, I have chosen to play a number of movements from your first suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio. I am therefore comparing your groundbreaking recording made in 1975 with JP Rampal of Baroque and Blue, with the more recent recording by Laurel Zucker. It would be most helpful if you could help me in a couple of queries: 1. I have heard a number of sources claim that you recorded the piano part on an old upright you found in a jazz club somewhere in Paris. However I can find no exact references to the type or make of piano. 2. ...read more.

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