Prelude, Fugue and Riffs by Leonard Bernstein

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This piece was arranged by John Romano of the Atlantic Reed Consort.

This video is from our 2017 performance at Grand Valley State University’s Arts at Noon Concert Series.

About Leonard Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs:
In the title alone, Bernstein points to a unification of jazz and classical styles, the Prelude and Fugue being classical music forms, and Riffs referring to Jazz improvisations, which in this piece, Bernstein has written out, rather than them being improvised by the performers. This work was originally written for Woody Herman’s big band, but ultimately became re-scored for a small pit-style orchestra, and then arranged recently by John Romano for reed quintet. The brass and rhythm section originally performed the Prelude, and the Fugue was for a section of five saxophones, including bass saxophone (in this version, the Fugue begins with some percussive, repeating bass clarinet notes just before the saxophone quickly enters with the fugue’s theme). The Riffs were “for everyone,” and are a synthesis of all players that recalls the Dixieland mashup style while maintaining Bernstein’s well-choreographed rhythmic playfulness.

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