Hullabaloo, Op. 16

for Violin, Clarinet in Bb, Trumpet in Bb, and Piano

Opus 16, 2019

Duration: 8m

Premiered June 2021 at the virtual International Trumpet Guild Conference.

Perusal Score

hullabaloo: a loud, continued noise, or mixture of noises. A commotion, or fuss.

from Mirriam-Webster and Google

Hullabaloo is a fun, upbeat work that features various strains of jazz that are often mixed or jumbled around, like jambalaya—an appropriate metaphor, considering the origin of jazz in the cultural jumble of New Orleans.

As my first jazz-inspired classical work, I wanted to create a work of art that is firmly in the classical tradition yet influenced and informed by jazz... and also, I wanted it to be fun. This brought up the question: which jazz? Jazz is hardly monolithic. It easily defies clean categorization. It can't really be defined. There is only its history, and various styles associated with it. And at this point, it has traveled the world and brought back souvenirs from pretty much everywhere.

I decided early on I wouldn't limit myself to just one “strain” of jazz. But neither could I possibly incorporate everything. (Only Mahler seemed to have the strange idea that you could fit the entire world into one piece!)

But there was also another issue I struggled with: the tendency of classical musicians and jazz musicians to feel and interpret rhythms differently. Classical musicians usually struggle with swing, while some jazz musicians couldn't play straight if a gun were held to their head!

I felt some kind of compromise was in order. Fortunately, there seems to be an indirect relationship between the amount of rhythmic swing and the tempo: as the tempo speeds up, the rhythmic swing is less pronounced. So an uptempo “cut time” seemed to be the most appropriate solution: fast enough that it could “swing” without necessarily swinging!

That also made it very appropriate for styles such as ragtime, Dixieland, Latin, bossa nova, and even a contemporary-sounding quartal texture.

Listen to the diversity of sounds and textures and enjoy the rhythmic impetus of the music. A work of art can certainly be both serious and full of joy and humor. Enjoy!