During my sophomore year of college, I decided to change my instrumental emphasis from classical to jazz. I’d been in and out of jazz bands for years, and ultimately that was where I felt most at home. In doing so, though, I had to leave the classical trumpet studio, where I’d already spent two years. I’d become especially close with the two performance majors my age, and I knew that as we moved into our upper-division coursework we would be seeing less and less of each other.
With that in mind, I began writing. RPM started as a series of sketches that reminded me of how these two guys played and what they liked in the classical music they chose. What started as five movements of music was condensed to three after an early sight reading session – one movement for each of us.
The first movement, Call to Arms, is in-your-face confrontational. It represents the complete command trumpets can have, both in chamber and large ensemble. It also contains a mellow section in which the musicians juxtapose fiery sixteenth-note rhythms against running eighth notes.
The second movement, (Calm) Before the Storm, is reflective. It allows warmer timbres to take over as the players explore a simple motive. Later in the movement, what was once a set of open harmonies becomes tight and dissonant, allowing the music to grow in strength as the players proceed into the upper register.
The third movement, Revolution, is tense and almost frantic, darting a sixteenth-note figure similar to the first movement back and forth between players. By layering a motive that follows the form of a twelve-bar blues over the ostinati created by the other two parts, the lines between jazz and classical begin to become blurred. As the movement progresses, other bits and pieces of the prior movements resurface, building toward a smooth, exciting conclusion.
This recording of RPM features Alex Wilson, Robert Lau Giambruno, and Megan DeJarnett: