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Burlesque : small jazz ensemble

by Nadia Burgess (2003)

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Compositions / Nadia Burgess.

Library shelf no. CD 1734 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

Burlesque was composed in 2003 and was inspired by the playful use of interesting time signatures by Bela Bartok, such as 3+3+2/8. It was composed for vibist Dale Gorfinkel and the Advanced Jazz Small Ensemble of 2003, which included two tenor saxes and guitar, and has been re-arranged for the current line-up. The composer has been very fortunate to know the musicians personally and their contribution to the interpretation of the piece has been invaluable.

The introduction consists of building the opening E minor 11 chord. The vibraphone then presents the main theme, which is repeated with accompanying figures from the ensemble. The section ends on a D minor 11 chord. The drummer facilitates the change to 6/8 and sets up a jazz waltz.

The trumpet improvises over chords derived from the main theme, but is also guided by modal indications. Along with the drums, the piano and bass accompany ad lib, using chord symbols. The saxes play a guide tone line as background. The improvisation is taken over by the vibes. Background figures are provided by the flutes and muted trumpet.

The piano guides the ensemble back to the original time signature, then, over an ostinato, builds a whole tone cluster. The ensemble ventures into the tonic major, after which an ascending line in the piano leads to a new version of the main theme, now being presented by the piano and flutes.

A new direction is taken by the rhythm section, an ostinato section is established and the vibes, trumpet and saxes gradually add layers. The ensemble ascends chromatically to the dominant of the original key and a shortened version of the introduction ends the piece.

Work Details

Year: 2003

Instrumentation: Trumpet in B flat, alto saxophone (doubling flute), tenor saxophone (doubling flute), vibraphone, piano, double bass, drums.

Duration: 6 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Composed for Dale Gorfinkel and the Advanced Jazz Small Ensemble of 2003

First performance: by Mike Nock, Dale Gorfinkel, Simon Ferenci, Peter Farrar, Mike Rivett, Mike Majkowski, James Waples — 12 May 04. Music Workshop, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.


  • In the form/style of: Jazz

Performances of this work

12 May 04: Music Workshop, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.. Featuring Mike Nock, Dale Gorfinkel, Simon Ferenci, Peter Farrar, Mike Rivett, Mike Majkowski, James Waples.

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