as one of a pair of linked ballets, 'Magnolia Suite' together
with its partner 'Jazz Colours'
set out to explore the theatrical potential of the music and atmosphere
of early jazz. 'Magnolia Suite' is a collection of classic jazz
pieces, compiled by jazz band leader Chris Barber and British
composer Richard Hill, to illustrate some of the quintessential
elements which formed the spirit of the Jazz Age. These stylistically
authentic settings for small orchestra or brass quintet reflect
a period from the 1890's through to around 1930 and include rare
and beautiful works of the era. This collection of some of the
gems of early jazz creates an atmosphere rich in the innocence,
charm and vitality of this ' music from the land of dreams' and
it offers a wonderful inspiration for creative choreography.
Pleasant Moments - Scott Joplin (3m 21secs).
second MP3 sample - Grosse Rundfunk Orchester Berlin (475k).
56 seconds MP3 sample - London
Gabrieli Brass Ensemble (435k).
in 1909, this piece is a rarity indeed. Very few ragtime waltzes
were ever written and this is one of the most delicately beautiful.
It illustrates perfectly how ragtime evolved from European Victorian
parlour music. In its gentle, subtle syncopation you can hear
the beginnings of an endearing style which would find an everlasting
place in the history of music.
02. Harlem Rag - Tom Turpin (2m 34secs).
second MP3 sample - orchestra - GRoB (556k).
65 seconds MP3 sample - B5t -
of the earliest published rags, written in 1897 by Tom Turpin,
a contemporary of Joplin and a native of Sedalia, Missouri. Sedalia
was an important centre in the history of ragtime. Ample employment
created an economy which encouraged musical activity to develop
and prosper. Harlem Rag, with its unstoppable sense of sheer enjoyment
of the genre, is very much an archetype of all we expect to hear
from a ragtime piece.
03. Mamie's Blues - Mamie Desdumes (2m 45secs).
second MP3 sample - orchestra - GRoB (544k).
seconds MP3 sample - B5t - LGBE (345k).
"That was the earliest blues I ever done heard". Coming from Jelly
Roll Morton, dandy, pimp, gambler, piano player, self-proclaimed
"inventor of jazz", the great Mr Jelly Lord himself, that was
a remarkably generous statement. So he didn't claim to have invented
the blues! But he did hear Mamie's Blues and eventually recorded
it. Whatever else he may have been, Jelly Roll was a wonderful
pianist and in some sense his claim that he invented jazz was
not altogether preposterous. Here in 'Mamie's Blues' is a perfect
example of the utter classical simplicity and dignity of the early
04. Policy King March - Anon (2m 37secs).
seconds MP3 sample - B5t - LGBE (386k).
amazing piece of music with what appears to be a minstrel band
pedigree. The original recording, made in the 1920's, consisted
of what sounded like a banjo players' convention with the odd
trombone and trumpet joining in. The Charleston of course, was
perhaps the definitive dance of the Jazz Age of the twenties.
And you will never hear a crazier version of it than this one!
Pine Top's Boogie Woogie Woogie - Pine Top Smith/Richard Hill/Chris
Barber (3m 10secs).
seconds MP3 sample - B5t - LGBE (463k).
rolling, pumping piano style of boogie woogie has always occupied
its own private niche in the history of jazz. It has remained
undeveloped to this day and everybody knows what boogie woogie
sounds like. By adding an extra ‘woogie’ to the time signature,
Richard and Chris have indulged in a little evolution of their
own, giving a new slant to this twenties original by Pine Top
Smith, who first popularised the term ‘boogie woogie’.
In A Mist - Bix Beiderbecke (3m 04secs).
second MP3 sample - orchestra - GRoB (509k).
second MP3 sample - B5t - LGBE (525k).
Originally a piano composition written down and recorded in 1927
with the help of his arranger friend Bill Challis, In A Mist illustrates
an inner paradox which preoccupied Bix for most of his life. Although
totally dedicated to jazz, Bix was not unaware of the works of
composers such as Debussy, Delius, Holst and Ravel and he was
musically drawn towards their use of complex, chromatic harmony.
In A Mist encapsulates these differing influences and creates
a strangely beautiful hybrid, a complete and evocative piece of
chamber music in its own right.