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it doesn’t suck

Better late and good, than on-time and sucky, I think I’ve heard. AVENUE X, the much-discussed concept, and now my most recent (yet embarrassingly overdue) effort for winds, is finally in rehearsals. It was a squeaker, definitely, as when all was said and done, it was basically a month late. I’ve been 3 weeks late before, but never a full month. Something about going into that next time-measurement category that forces the guilt to rise in my gullet. It was the insertion of THE RIVERS OF BOWERY (now officially dubbed “ThROB”, all credit and blame to JB) into the writing schedule which just killed me, and threw a nasty wrench into the proceedings. Doing those two pieces back-to-back also went to town on my decaying body … the countless hours at coffee shops and computer-time logged allowed that old and festering workstation-related shoulder/back injury to creep back into the game: a microtrauma in my left shoulder causing me no end in slight discomfort. Composing: a dangerous sport. And I’m only 32.

This all accounts for the two-month lag in postings, of course. Though several large engraving jobs (Yeah, I still do them … the phone still rings so I still say yes), a kitchen renovation, and a stressful CBDNA Conference all happening simultaneously were also partly to blame. Of course, at this point I’m reminded of the great contrabassist Eugene Levinson, who when told that a student wouldn’t be making his master class at Juilliard because he was “too busy”, narrowed his eyes and menacingly, yet silkily, whispered in his thick Russian accent, “You tell him, we are all busy.” So I do not at all beg for sympathy. But, in fact, it had gotten so bad that I realized around mid-March that I hadn’t had so much as a weekend off since the beginning of December. So that settled it. Better Half and I fled town and headed north as soon as the plate was cleared. And that left AVE X flouncing around in cyberspace, waiting for the consortium to download the parts and start the read-downs.

There have been a few snags, of course: I mistakenly left out pg. 3 of the Horn 2 part, that kind of thing. I can deal with that stuff easily. But most recently I found out that none of the commissioners have marimbas that go down to F2, and the piece is in F. I have a more difficult time with those issues. Yet we march on. La la la I’m not listening. Well, I am listening, but I’m not ashamed to say that I’m secretly hoping that all of Eastern Illinois’ marimbas grow 2 bars over the weekend…

All that being said, I believe this is one of my better efforts for younger wind groups, as the list of who I ripped off on this one is probably the most eclectic yet, and that makes me chuckle. I spent time happily transcribing Terence Blanchard’s pentatonic blues tunes, Evanescence distorted guitar rhythms, Prince bass licks, and Poison power-chords, among others. So I’m looking forward to premiere week and hearing a piece that after I got through messing with it, will sound absolutely nothing like those people I just listed. Mostly because of the lack of electric guitars and amplifiers, but it’s not through lack of trying…

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