Although recorded previously with my Creative Opportunity Workshop quartet, the 10tet version of this piece came first. It was composed in 2012, as part of a collaborative venture with visual artists Deborah Dancy and Ted Efremoff. I wanted to write something suggestive of Aaron Copeland – big and open sounding, to complement the grandiose feeling of mountains reflected on a lake, as portrayed in their projected images.
Listening to and studying Aaron Copeland scores got me thinking about William Fielder, a former professor of mine at Rutgers University, who was known for his highly eccentric, yet effective teaching methods. Fielder would always ask new trumpet students, “What is the trumpet?” The only answer he would accept was, “The trumpet is the mirror of the mind.”
Aptly, trumpet is one of the featured instruments on this composition; Josh Evans’ most substantial solo is saved for the end. Before this, all of the winds get brief solo statements, which are interwoven into the fabric of the piece. This is a compositional device I draw upon to avoid the repetitive, long, predictable solo forms heard in so much jazz.
If your interest is piqued after reading the article, and you would like to hear the newly recorded studio version, I hope you will consider purchasing your copy of “Open Borders” through Bandcamp: https://earlmacdonald.bandcamp.com/album/open-borders