Jeff Scott Homage to Paradise Valley Score
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Homage to Paradise Valley by Jeff Scott
Includes poetry by Marsha Music titled The Valley, The Bottom, and Hastings Street.
This poetry may be read in live performance prior to movements I, II, and IV. Marsha’s recording may also be played live prior to each of these movement.
I. Ghosts of Black Bottom
ll. Hastings Street Blues
lll. Roho, Pumzika kwa Amani (Spirits, Rest Peacefully) (A Lullaby)
lV. Paradise Theater Jump!
Bb / A Clarinet
Alto / Soprano Saxophone
Length: 25 minutes (32 minutes with poetry)
Listen: Homage to Paradise Valley with poetry on Akropolis’ 2021 album Ghost Light
About Homage to Paradise Valley
The historical content of these notes by the composer is provided courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society (detroithistorical.org) where one can find a wealth of information on Paradise Valley and Black Bottom. Poetry by Marsha Music—a lifelong resident of Detroit whose father, Joe Von Battle, was a record producer for Aretha Franklin and owned Joe’s Records, central to the Black Bottom community—was commissioned by Akropolis in 2020 to create poetry to accompany Jeff’s music.
Black Bottom was a predominantly Black neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan. In the early 20th century, African-American residents became concentrated here during the first wave of the Great Migration to northern industrial cities. Informal segregation operated in the city kept them in this area of older, less expensive housing. Black Bottom/Paradise Valley became known for its African-American residents’ significant contributions to American music, including Blues, Big Band, and Jazz, from the 1930s to 1950s. Black Bottom was eventually razed and redeveloped for various urban renewal projects, driving the residents out. By the 1960s the neighborhood ceased to exist.
Hastings Street ran north-south through Black Bottom and had been a center of Eastern European Jewish settlement before World War I, but by the 1950s, migration transformed the strip into one of Detroit’s major African-American communities of black-owned businesses, social institutions, and nightclubs.
From the Bantu language of Swahili, “Roho, Pumzika kwa Amani” (Spirits, Rest Peacefully) is a lullaby, my humble offering to the many souls who came before me and persevered through the middle passage, decades of slavery, disenfranchising laws, and inequality. I am who I am because of those who stood before me. May their spirits rest peacefully.
Orchestra Hall closed in 1939, but reopened in 1941 as the Paradise Theater. For 10 years it would then offer the best of African-American musicians from around the country. “Paradise Theater Jump” is dedicated to the famed theater and harkens to the up-tempo style of “jump blues,” usually played by small groups and featuring saxophone or brass instruments. Homage to Paradise Valley was commissioned by Akropolis and Chamber Music America, made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2019).
Additional historical notes on this work are provided within the purchased score and parts.
About Jeff Scott
A native of Queens, NY, Jeff Scott started the French horn at age 14, receiving an anonymous gift scholarship to go to the Brooklyn College Preparatory Division. An even greater gift came from his first teacher, Carolyn Clark, who taught the young Mr. Scott for free during his high school years, giving him the opportunity to study music when resources were not available. Associate Professor of Horn at the Oberlin Conservatory, Mr. Scott’s performance credits are many and varied, including The Lion King orchestra (on Broadway, New York) 1997-2005. He has been a member of the Alvin Ailey and Dance Theater of Harlem orchestras since 1995 and has performed under the direction of Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Mr. Scott was also the French hornist and founder of the internationally acclaimed wind quintet Imani Winds.
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