This is an accordion feature, and I know not every group has access to accordion or additionally one that improvises on a level to carry a feature such as this. So, there might be alternatives that I’ve yet to hear. I think this could possibly be a beautiful piano or vibes feature, or maybe even violin or soprano sax (if someone can cover the other reed part). Think creatively, knowing the musicians you have available.
The doubles on this are not technically difficult, but it is important they have a good sound. 5 reeds, 4 trumpets (trpt 1&3 play flügel, 2 needs bucket, 4 needs cup), 3 trombones (1 needs cup, 2 needs straight, 3 needs bucket), 1 bass trombone (bucket), accordion, guitar (with electronic almost angelic effects), piano, bass, drums (brushes).
Recorded on Data Lords, “Sanzenin” is the first song on the 2nd of the two CD. It is inspired by beautiful temple gardens north of Kyoto. It’s a very simple piece, but requires care to get the right feeling in performance, and I put it through a few rewrites to try and get it right. I wanted to produce a little different shade of subtle color from chord to chord, even thinking about how things would sit with panning in a recording. A few solo melodies rise out of the stillness, first Keith O’Quinn on lead trombone, then Rich Perry on tenor, then Nadje Noordhuis on flügel. When Gary Versace enters on accordion, he finds a perfect way of playing soloistically over this piece. “Sanzenin” doesn’t give him the usual rhythmic or changing harmonic landscape that most big band pieces offer soloists for interaction. This piece is rather about introspection, where the soloist is maybe more like the joyful conscious mind, taking in the peaceful gardens, sometimes meditative, and sometimes moving about as the mind always does.
Under “Solos” and “Instrumentation” you can see some of the options I’ve laid out for those that might hope to play this music with their own ensemble, but that don’t have a strong improvising accordion or any accordion at all. You can read some of the other ideas I offered.
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