Tributary Streams —1994

Tributary Streams is a jazz-inflected piece, commissioned by Arthur Hegvik, saxophone, who gave the world premiere with Robert Sottile, piano, Peter Paulsen, bass, and Richard Fitz, percussion at West Chester University.

Program Notes

I chose the title to reflect the various meanings of the two words.  I liked the way they sounded together, and I particularly was drawn to the imagery of a journey on various waterways, always branching off in new and unexpected directions.  Tributary: paying tribute (to various styles of music), under the control of another, contributing to something, flowing into a larger one (a stream).  Stream: a current of flow of water, steady movement, rays of energy, a trend or course, to extend or stretch out. . .

The first section presents a simple jazz-inspired tune, with a written-out piano part, and largely improvised bass and drum parts.  The second section is a large-scale variation of the first section—like a reworking of the same ideas in a different style and a more expansive time-frame.  It features “washes” of harmonies—a steady stream of sixteenth notes in the piano, and call-and-response and echo effects between the vibes, piano, and saxophone.  The third section of the piece presents another variation of the first, this time more contrapuntal and fragmented in its approach to melody—as though the music is moving toward a chaotic tension.  A coda closes out the piece, recalling echoes of the opening, simple and nostalgic, very distant.