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Artist Profiles

Ken Mathieson: Classic Jazz Redefined

By Published: June 22, 2005
The new band is in what might be called the classic small big band format. Like Joe Lovano in his Tadd Dameron realisations (Dameron's music would also be an option for Ken's band), he has trumpet, trombone, three reeds, piano, bass and drums. The new Thad Jones realisations use the same line-up, playing music adapted from originals composed for big-band, small-band or even piano trio. The procedure is like that of working out a reduced big band score, by ear, trying to do the same things with different forces;. Even when scoring for forces close to those on an initial recording the ears have to do the work.

The necessary presence of solo improvisation challenges the arranger of older jazz. Copy period features, which some hearers if not listeners would expect, and the soloist is lost in imitative detail, or plain loses the place. The arrangements are in a real sense transcriptions, to help at least listeners and potential soloists hear. Ken's slogan is "re- interpret rather than recreate", find new ways to explore the music without losing the spirit of the originals. Musicians have to be themselves when soloing, and it's the rhythm section's job (says Ken the drummer) to smooth out stylistic differences between soloists.

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