Zeitgeist's Jazz Commissions at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival

June 24, 2014

Known for their 35+ year history as an acclaimed new music ensemble, Zeitgeist is always eager to explore new artistic frontiers and is dedicated to the creation and production of new and diverse music. This year, Zeitgeist has commissioned four new works from local jazz artists Chris Bates, Steve Kenny, Zacc Harris and Davu Seru to be premiered at the 2014 Twin Cities Jazz Festival. The ensemble is collaborating with each of the artists this week in rehearsals and will welcome them to the stage for the premiere performances at Studio Z on June 26 and 27 at 5 p.m.

Here are a few notes from the composers on what you’ll hear: 

Corridors by Zacc Harris

Guitarist and composer Zacc Harris has become a vital part of the Twin Cities jazz community since moving here in 2005, co-leading the band Atlantis Quartet and working with a number of other groups and artists. Exploring the possibilities of jazz through new compositions is central to his artistic mission, and having the opportunity to write for a unique and exceptional ensemble like Zeitgeist has opened up new ideas. This piece, Corridors, focuses on a couple of these new ideas. The lack of bass prompted the idea of writing in a straight eighth feel rather than swing, and gives the bass role to the piano. Primarily a modal piece, there are two main themes. The first is in Dm in 7/4 time and is based on the intervals of a 2nd and a 6th, in both the melody and the harmony. The second theme is in 5/4 and shifts between four harmonic centers, mostly parallel in nature, and the melody uses more quartal intervallic structures. The abrupt shifts in time and tonality are meant to give the listener the feeling of turning down a new path, or corridor. For more info, visit www.zaccharris.com.

Ghost Suite by Steve Kenny

"I've always considered jazz to be modern American chamber music, and so the concept whereby Zeitgeist is going to add freshly composed works to its repertoire by some of my favorite local jazz artists is really a great idea for the 2014 Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Rehearsing up these compositions with that world class ensemble is a joy, and I can't wait to get a chance to hear and be a part of performing these works. The goal of my Ghost Suite is to forge a balance between the merit of Zeitgeist's 35+ years of new music performance practice with the more guttural emotions and extemporaneous events present in the modern jazz tradition. It also pays tribute to Bob Samarotto, Yuri Merzhevsky, and Eric Stokes with separate movements dedicated to each." --Steve Kenny

Relay Transmission by Chris Bates

Chris Bates is a very active jazz bassist here in the Twin Cities and he is excited to work with Zeitgeist as a composer. His new piece Relay Transmission explores the rhythmic evolution of a 12-tone melody from a slow, open introduction to the fast and frantic ending. The piece contains melodic material linked to improvised sections that rely on the ability of the performers to transform this written material from one pulse layer to the next. As with most improvisation, the results should vary each time the piece is played, creating a new version of the transmission at every performance. Find out more about Chris @ DoubleBates.com

Zeitgeist at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival

Thursday, June 26, 2014
5 p.m. 

Friday, June 27, 2014
5 p.m. 

Studio Z, 275 East Fourth Street, Suite 200
St. Paul

More information

See hotsummerjazz.com for all Twin Cities Jazz Festival events, and click here for more festival events taking place at Studio Z. 


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Preston Duncan will be joining you on the program--a saxophonist I understand you've worked with quite a bit. How did your collaboration come about and what have you worked on together? 

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Elaine’s winning piece, Beat No More...

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