Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra

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Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra
SSBThreePieces.jpg
Studio album by Siegel–Schwall Band
Released 1973
Genre Blues rock, third stream, classical crossover, avant-garde
Label Deutsche Grammophon
Producer Thomas Mowrey
Siegel–Schwall Band chronology
953 West
(1973) 953 West1973
Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra
(1973)
Live: The Last Summer
(1974) Live: The Last Summer1974
Alternate cover

SSBThreePiecesPolydor.jpg

1977 Polydor Records release

Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra is an avant-garde musical composition written by William Russo in 1968. It combines classical music played by an orchestra with blues played by a four-piece band.

Avant-garde music is music that is considered to be at the forefront of experimentation or innovation in its field, with the term "avant-garde" implying a critique of existing aesthetic conventions, rejection of the status quo in favor of unique or original elements, and the idea of deliberately challenging or alienating audiences.

William Joseph Russo was an American composer, arranger, and musician from Chicago.

Classical music broad tradition of Western art music

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820, this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period. The major time divisions of Western art music are as follows:

Contents

Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra was recorded in 1972 by the San Francisco Symphony and the Siegel–Schwall Band, conducted by Seiji Ozawa. When the album was released the following year by Deutsche Grammophon, it became one of the company's best selling records, [1] reaching number 21 on the Billboard Jazz Chart and number 105 on the Billboard 200. [2] Side two of the original LP record was Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. When the album was reissued on CD in 2002, the Bernstein piece was omitted in favor of An American in Paris by George Gershwin and another Russo composition combining classical and blues, Street Music: A Blues Concerto.

San Francisco Symphony symphonic orchestra

The San Francisco Symphony (SFS), founded in 1911, is an American orchestra based in San Francisco, California. Since 1980, the orchestra is resident at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall in the City's Hayes Valley neighborhood. The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus (1972) are part of the organization. Since 1995, Michael Tilson Thomas has been the orchestra's music director. Tilson Thomas is scheduled to conclude his tenure as the orchestra's music director in 2020, when Esa-Pekka Salonen is scheduled to become the orchestra's next music director.

The Siegel–Schwall Band is an American electric blues band from Chicago, Illinois. The band was formed in 1964 by Corky Siegel and Jim Schwall (guitar), and still tours occasionally.

Seiji Ozawa Japanese orchestra conductor

Seiji Ozawa is a Japanese conductor known for his advocacy of modern composers and for his work with the San Francisco Symphony, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is the recipient of numerous international awards.

From concept to album release

In 1966, Seiji Ozawa saw the Siegel–Schwall Band perform live at Big John's in Chicago. The Siegel–Schwall Band was a blues rock group led by Corky Siegel (harmonica, piano, vocals) and Jim Schwall (guitar, vocals). Ozawa conceived the idea of combining blues and classical music. [3] The following year, Ozawa conducted a performance of William Russo's Symphony No. 2, Titans, at the Ravinia Festival. Shortly after that, Russo was commissioned to write and orchestrate the composition that became Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra. Russo consulted with Siegel when writing this work. While the orchestral parts are fully delineated, the blues band parts are more broadly outlined, leaving significant room for musical improvisation. [4]

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States, and the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, which is often referred to as "Chicagoland." The Chicago metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States, the fourth largest in North America, and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Blues rock is a fusion genre combining elements of blues and rock. It is mostly an electric ensemble-style music with instrumentation similar to electric blues and rock: electric guitar, electric bass, and drums, often with Hammond organ. From its beginnings in the early- to mid-1960s, blues rock has gone through several stylistic shifts and along the way it inspired and influenced hard rock, Southern rock, and early heavy metal. Blues rock continues to be an influence in the 2010s, with performances and recordings by popular artists.

Corky Siegel musician

Mark Paul "Corky" Siegel is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and composer. He plays harmonica and piano. He plays and writes blues and blues-rock music, and has also worked extensively on combining blues and classical music. He is best known as the co-leader of the Siegel-Schwall Band, and as the leader of the Chamber Blues group.

Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra was first performed at the Ravinia Festival on July 7, 1968 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ozawa, and the Siegel–Schwall Band. It was subsequently performed by the Siegel–Schwall Band and several other orchestras around the United States, one of which was the San Francisco Symphony. [5]

Chicago Symphony Orchestra American orchestra based in Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) was founded by Theodore Thomas in 1891. The ensemble makes its home at Orchestra Hall in Chicago and plays a summer season at the Ravinia Festival. The music director is Riccardo Muti, who began his tenure in 2010. The CSO is one of five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five".

In 1972, the San Francisco Symphony was reunited with the Siegel–Schwall Band to record Three Pieces for the album. [6] [4]

Street Music

Several years later, William Russo wrote another composition combining classical music and the blues, Street Music: A Blues Concerto. This piece was recorded by the San Francisco Symphony, again conducted by Seiji Ozawa, with Corky Siegel playing harmonica and electric piano. [7] Street Music was released as an album in 1977 by Deutsche Grammophon, with a "B side" of George Gershwin's An American in Paris. [6] [3]

Three Pieces reissued

Later in 1977, Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra was re-released on vinyl by Deutsche Grammophon, on their Polydor Records label, backed by Street Music: A Blues Concerto. [6]

In 2002, Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra was released on CD, combined with Street Music and An American in Paris.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [8]

On Classical Music Sentinel in 2011, Jean-Yves Duperron wrote, "This great collaborative recording from the 1970s deserves the term of Definitive Recording simply for being what it is. A very successful coming together of different genres of music that created an impact, that is still being felt today.... If you like blues music, Leonard Bernstein's Mass , even something a bit more remote like the Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, you will love these pieces blending the upbeat sound of a blues band with a symphony orchestra. And if you love the sound of a well-played blues harmonica, just wait until you hear what Corky Siegel can achieve on that versatile instrument. It will make you love the blues all over again." [1]

On Allmusic, Cub Koda was considerably more reserved, saying "This is not an album — or a piece of music — to be neutral about. Collaborations between the high brow and the low down have always been dicey... but this one will definitely leave [you] on one side of the debate or the other..." [8]

Track listing

Original LP

Side one:
Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra (William Russo)
with the Siegel–Schwall Band; Stuart Canin – solo violin on "2nd Part"

  1. "1st Part"
  2. "2nd Part"
  3. "3rd Part"

Side two:
Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein)

  1. "Prologue" (allegro moderato)
  2. "Somewhere" (adagio)
  3. "Scherzo" (vivace e leggiero)
  4. "Mambo" (meno presto)
  5. "Cha-Cha" (andantino con grazia)
  6. "Meeting Scene" (meno mosso)
  7. "Cool" Fugue (allegretto)
  8. "Rumble" (molto allegro)
  9. "Finale" (adagio)

Compact Disc

Street Music: A Blues Concerto (William Russo)
with Corky Siegel

  1. "1st Movement" – 8:16
  2. "2nd Movement" – 5:17
  3. "3rd Movement" – 8:52
  4. "4th Movement" – 8:53

Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra (William Russo)
with the Siegel–Schwall Band; Stuart Canin – solo violin on "2nd Part"

  1. "1st Part" – 8:08
  2. "2nd Part" – 8:58
  3. "3rd Part" – 7:11

An American in Paris (George Gershwin)

  1. "An American in Paris" – 18:03

Personnel

Siegel–Schwall Band

Production

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References