Describe your inspiration for composing the piece.
"Scatterbrain" is meant to be a disjointed exploration of several different styles and genres of jazz music, including bebop, funk, and blues. I had always wanted to write a piece for jazz ensemble and came up with several disparate ideas I wanted to incorporate while writing the piece, so I needed a title that fit and justified the lack of continuity in my writing process. The piece is also held together by a mixed meter rock-influenced theme, typically played as a rhythm section soli, which is the only repeating material in the whole piece and acts as connective tissue between the more contrasting sections.
What are some of the goals you strove to accomplish in writing the work?
Writing a piece with so many different components proved to be an ambitious undertaking. My main goal for the piece is that each individual section can stand on its own and will do justice to the style/genre it takes inspiration from. I also hope that, even though the piece is meant to be eclectic and moderately unfocused, the pacing of the piece as a whole makes sense and the journey through each different section is understandable and compelling.
What are some of the challenges you faced in writing the work?
As I mentioned, I had never written a piece for jazz musicians before. There are several similarities between writing for traditional "classical" ensembles and jazz ensembles, but in a lot of ways (such as with harmony, form, orchestration, and notation) it's a completely different world. I was fortunate enough to take a Jazz Arranging class with Dr. Scott Cowan during my undergrad at Western Michigan University, so I had some familiarity with standard jazz conventions, but writing a piece of this scale was a new and intimidating experience for me. I really appreciate Dr. Jordan VanHemert for putting up with all of my silly questions and providing great feedback and perspective throughout the writing process.
For you, as a composer, what has been the most beneficial and rewarding part of your collaborative process with the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra?
It's been an absolute pleasure writing this piece and working with Jordan and the HCJO. I've been following the ensemble since its inception last year and know the high caliber of the individual musicians and the ensemble as a whole, so I'm incredibly grateful that my first opportunity to write for jazz ensemble was for such an incredibly talented group. Thank you to the HCJO for being a part of this collaboration concert and to MCI for organizing the project!