1958-1961 (2011) by Alexander Hills
for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, and cello
World premiere; Earplay commission

This piece is an homage to Ornette Coleman's great albums of the late 50s and early 60s, and especially the seminal tracks Lonely Woman and Free Jazz. I'm not interested in writing music that sounds like jazz, but instead in letting aspects of the structure and approach to melody and harmony 'interfere' with my own very different practice. I've treated the strings as a sort of rhythm section, and the wind instruments as free-floating melodic instruments — Coleman was radical in that his melody lines weren't conceived in terms of a relationship to chord changes. The verse-chorus shape of the first part of the piece comes from Lonely Woman, and the string of solos at the end from Free Jazz, but the material — except for a more or less direct lift from Lonely Woman in the clarinet solo — is not merely my own, but in a language that is very far from Coleman's indeed.

— A. H.    

[from program for February 6, 2012 concert]