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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Premiere of "Bacheque"

Here's the premiere performance of Bacheque, an original work by the SOUL-JAZZ Big Band. Bill Straub pays the alto solo, and Dean Keller is on baritone sax.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Streaming SOUL-JAZZ

Here's our October 12 live radio performance on Jazz 90.1 FM. The SOUL-JAZZ Big Band performing classics, a few new arrangements, and the premiere performance of Bacheque, a new original written especially for this occasion.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

SOUL-JAZZ Big Band live on Jazz 90.1

Jazz 90.1 FM
Russell Scarbrough's SOUL-JAZZ Big Band will be performing live on WGMC 90.1 FM radio in Rochester, NY on Wednesday October 12 from 7-8pm. The performance will also be streaming live at www.jazz901.org. Tune in for an hour of live music with a band of great soloists, featuring all original arrangements. You'll hear great tunes by Kenny Dorham, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, and more. We'll also be premiering a brand new original piece entitled BACHEQUE — so don't miss this exciting event!

Friday, August 26, 2016


I had a great experience this past spring at French Road Elementary with band director Debbie Parker and jazz guitarist Bob Sneider. Good composers can write at all levels, I believe, and as much as I value working with highly trained professionals, the creative benefits of working with children can be just as rewarding. Fortunately, in this instance, I was able to do both.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Jazz ensemble works at eJazzLines.com

I'm pleased to announce that a number of my recent works for jazz ensemble are now published by Walrus Music Publishing, and available from eJazzLines.com, one of the largest distributors of quality jazz publications.

eJazzLinesAmong those newly released are:
Incipit Vita Nova, composed for Jon Faddis
Something's Burning, in homage to Stevie Ray Vaughan, performed by the American Jazz Composer's Orchestra
Needledrop, Touch, and Song of the Northern Road, a trio of pieces commissioned by Rochester, New York area high school jazz ensembles

Click here to go directly to my catalog of charts at eJazzLines.

Some of my older works for jazz ensemble may also be found at Really Good Music

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Finding my music in iTunes

A quick look in iTunes has revealed a couple of my pieces have appeared there recently. Here's how to find them there to hear and to purchase:

Vox Planetarium, recorded by the Monash University Flute Ensemble directed by Peter Sheridan.

Bow Shock, recorded by the Irrera Brothers Duo.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Music You Should Know" - Part 2

Read Part I here.

Delving into another group of composers/compositions, IMO, high-school-age composition students should familiarize themselves with, here are what I call Late 20th-century Modernists.

I expect a certain amount of controversy just over the categorization, as well as the inclusion/exclusion of certain names. Corigliano, Zappa, and Schnittke, for instance, could all be argued to be Post-Modernists, since their music to some extent is characterized by frequent use of pastiche, homage, or what-have-you, making overt reference to music of the past for a particular ironic effect (one of the hallmarks of Post-Modernism). However, I'd also say, arbitrarily I suppose, that their basic language is dissonant, atonal, frequently non-pulsitile, completely outside the common practice use of melodic devices/voice-leading with resolutions, and so forth, which is the criteria I'm using.

I'm also making a distinction between Modernists and what I'm calling Avant-gardists, which is indeed splitting hairs with more than a few (the late 20th century Avant-garde will be the next post). So Morton Feldman, Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, and others whose language is either directly or indirectly influenced by Cage, instead of the mid-century Modernists (Boulez, Babbitt), I'm lumping together as the Avant-garde.

At any rate, this list is a work-in-progress, but these guys are important! Listen and absorb.....

Listen to "Music You Should Know: Late 20th Century Modernists"

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Vox Planetarium released on Wirrpang Records

I'm pleased to announce that my low-flutes-with-electronics piece Vox Planetarium, commissioned by Peter Sheridan, has just been released on Wirripang Records in Australia. The CD, entitled "Labyrinths of Lowness", was recorded by the Monash University Flute Ensemble from Melbourne, Australia.

I'm also pleased to announce that I'll be conducting the U.S. premiere of Vox Planetarium this August at the National Flute Convention in Washington DC, featuring Peter and a host of other world-class flutists.

To listen to excerpts from the disc, or to purchase a copy, visit Wirripang on the web.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"Music You Should Know" – Part 1

I have several young private composition students I teach regularly, and then during the summer I work closely with a handful of students at the Csehy Summer School of Music. One thing I've consistently found is that these young students are for the most part completely unaware of what contemporary classical music sounds like, looks like, who's writing it, and who's playing it. Which is perplexing to me, since not only is discovering who the current composers and players are totally exciting, but also totally inspiring to the creative juices. Many students seem to think that new music in 2015 is basically what it was in 1955, which is like saying that pop music today sounds like it did 60 years ago—actually, nothing could be more different.

But another thing that is different these days is the immediate accessibility of new music: on You Tube, on Soundcloud, on Band Camp, on internet radio, or just on plain old blogs and web sites, compelling new music is really everywhere, if you just know to look for it. Even scores, which used to seem hidden away in some obscure, secret place like treasure maps, are profoundly available in a way that would have once seemed miraculous. Hearing new music, seeing new music, studying new music.... we live in an age of plenty.

So, in order to get these young people current with what's going on now — and what has gone on in the last 60 years — I'm putting together a series of You Tube playlists called "Music You Should Know", containing a bunch of videos of, you know. Each playlist will be defined by a (very) broad category to group things together in some kind of organized way. No doubt the very subjective act of categorization will be cause for some debate.... I hope it is! Getting students conversant enough with this music to develop points of view and questions is the whole point. I've had students become enthusiastic upon encountering things as different as Music for 18 Musicians on one hand, and Vox Balaenae on the other.

Playlist one is Minimalism & Post-Modernism (or PoMo for short). A very fun list to compile, and a good example of the wide range of music that can come in under a fairly wide umbrella: it has Arvo Pärt next to Michael Gordon, and Eliane Radigue next to Michael Nyman. Teasing out the connecting threads between these very different musics are part of what makes new music so much fun.

Listen to "Music You Should Know: Minimalism & Postmodernism"

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Posts have been few and far between lately — too busy writing and playing! — but the erudite Ethan Iverson and I exchanged some email regarding Hank Levy and Buddy Rich, spinning off of his post on Rich's show drumming legacy that was made so much of in the recent Whiplash movie. I related to Ethan one of Hank's favorite stories, regarding the one time where Hank and Buddy happened to intersect. You can read the original post here (an excellent read, and simpatico with many of my thoughts on the subject), and Ethan posted my correspondence with him here.

Speaking of Whiplash (one of Hank Levy's great odd-meter scores), I didn't bring this out in the discussion with Ethan, but I did most of the editing of a newly-published edition of the original score of Whiplash as recorded by Don Ellis, with the help of Nick DiScala. It's part of the Don Ellis Critical Editions series published by University of Northern Colorado Press, and is available here. It is the definitive, original, annotated edition of Whiplash, with full score and parts, and is the first place anyone should look to find the real thing.