by Paul Epp
Paul Epp is an arranger and performer on trumpet and keyboards in Nashville. His pieces have been performed and recorded by the Nashville Jazz Orchestra and the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music Philharmonia Orchestra. “Divergence” was performed and recorded live at CCM in 2008. Epp is currently finishing his next symphonic jazz work, titled “Inception,” which will premiere in April. www.pauleppmusic.com – Zachary Greenberg
Greenberg: What is the structure of “Divergence”?
Epp: “Divergence” is essentially in five sections: intro, first solo, orchestral interlude, big band section, and then the final build.
Greenberg: How did you go about trying to blend all of these sounds into one fluid composition?
Epp: In “Divergence,” I take two standard ensemble traditions—the Western classical symphony orchestra and the American jazz big band—and blend them together in a way that leaves the listener distinctly aware of each and yet ultimately affected by their fusion. “Divergence” showcases the strengths of these two ensembles’ traditions by matching the power, harmonic sophistication, and rhythmic drive of a jazz big band with the subtlety, depth, and richness of a full symphony orchestra.
Greenberg: How does improvisation factor in when writing a live orchestration?
Epp: I encouraged the soloists to improvise, to enter and exit during the course of the piece, each spurred on by the richness of the accompanying sonic palette. As its name suggests, the piece is continuously leading the listener down a particular musical path, only to suddenly change course in an unexpected yet natural way.
Greenberg: How many musicians and instruments were on stage during this performance?
Epp: There were over 80 performers for the piece and 33 different instruments. This included flutes, piccolos, oboes, clarinets, bass clarinets, alto saxophones, tenor saxophones, baritone saxophones, bassoons, contrabassoons, French horns, trumpets, trombones, bass trombones, tubas, electric jazz guitars, pianos, acoustic bass, drum sets, timpanis, strings (violins, violas, cellos, and double bass), and percussion (vibraphones, chimes, bass drums, triangle, cymbals, snare drums, suspended cymbals, concert toms, and military field drums).
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