The Cortège

July '79

This composition was added to The Cortège after the premiere, and titled to mark the date of that first performance, at Bracknell jazz Festival. The roots of the chords relate to the original nine-note pattern, and frequently move in major thirds. The piece is divided into two parts, first a slow thirteen-bar ballad theme with this chord sequence:


This is followed by a six-bar sequence of chords, with a strong rhythmic feel. This is made up of nine chords:


The arrangement of this piece alternates between the thirteen bar ballad and the rhythmic six-bar section, which is repeated many times and provides the basis for two extended solos. For the second part, from the point at which the alto saxophone takes up the ballad theme, the piece moves up a major third. The six bar sequence, made up of nine chords, is similar in form to “Córdoba”, though l did not realise this until afterwards. In a sense it anticipates “Córdoba” - particularly towards the end when the chords are played by massed horns, Like "Córdoba" it employs the  central element in The Cortège, a cyclic six bar sequence, ln “July”, however, the feeling is all lyrical, exuberant energy; in “Córdoba" it is of loneliness and approaching death. When “July” was added, it became, by coincidence, the seventh part out of twelve parts in The Cortège, i.e. the seventh of twelve months, July, high summer.

Brian Godding, the orchestra’s guitarist, who came round to run over some tunes while l was working on this, was the first person ever to play “July", and his sound and feeling has been an essential part of it ever since. Chris Hunter has likewise set his stamp on “July" with his alto solo at the end. The importance for me of the contribution made to the development of the music, not only by vocalists and instrumental improvisers, but by every musician in the Orchestra, cannot be emphasised enough. All the players make their mark on the music from the first time it is rehearsed - from the point at which it stops being the private concern of the composer and becomes a collective affair. 

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