John Oliver, composer

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The story behind COOL CUT

John Oliver’s new work Cool Cut is inspired by key compositions from the "cool jazz" period, specifically the landmark Miles Davis nonette recording BIRTH OF THE COOL (1954).

Come hear it performed by Julia Nolan and the Turning Point Ensemble.

Friday April 29, 7:30 pm
Saturday April 30, 2:30 pm

Telus Theatre at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
University of British Columbia 6265 Crescent Road, Vancouver Canada.

More info.

Read on for details about the inspiration for this new work.

I’ve been working with Abelton LIVE software for several years to create live electronic music, solo and in combination with other creative musicians, and a poet. Initially, I pursued more traditional musique concrète techniques using classic software like GRM Tools. But as I listened to more contemporary DJ and experimental work, I started to use cutup techniques and get more rhythmic. I thought how cool it would be to apply this paradigm to a work for a standard orchestra with no electronics. I’d also had in mind to write a piece for Vancouver saxophonist Julia Nolan for some time. With my new work Cool Cut, these two streams come together.
A purposely enigmatic work, I have taken as inspiration the first few notes or phrases from key compositions from the "cool jazz" period, specifically the landmark Miles Davis nonette recording BIRTH OF THE COOL, which was recorded Jan. and April 1949 and March 1950 (and released in 1957). Baritone saxophonist and composer Gerry Mulligan's tunes are at the core of the piece. My favourite Dave Brubeck composition, "Blue Rondo a la Turk" also makes appearances at various points, and the unavoidable famous Paul Desmond tune "Take Five" elbows it's way in during the very last section.

Many of these tunes are between 4 to 12 bars long, and the rest consists of improvisation over chord changes. Whereas improvisation is often the core interest for jazz music lovers, in my case, I sought similarities of chords and melodic structures among the various tunes, and mashed those together, discarding improvisation entirely.

I also purposefully keep the duration of the 5 tunes quite short, between about 2 to 4 minutes in length, so they are very compact and end suddenly.

My very special thanks to Alison E Kirkley & Richard Carswell for their financial support of this project, as well as the following who contributed to an online fundraising campaign:
Jocelyn Morlock, Suzy Easton, David C Pay, Margaret Carter, Garry M Eister, Jeff Solis, Rex Jackson-Coombs, Preston Duncan, Janis Harper, Moshe E Denburg, Sandra Bruneau, Patricia D Green, Ken Kamachi, Cindy Cheng, Yang Shih Lin, Carol E Sawyer, Matt Silverman, E. Bligh, Craig Lovett, P J Stollery, Sammy Chien, Linda Hoffman, Marc K Yeats, Anne Cavillon, Brad Mahon, Bruno Degazio, Mark Kamachi