The Numbering of Vivaldi’s Bassoon Concerti

If you’ve ever played, lis­tened to, or researched any­thing by Anto­nio Vivaldi, then you’ve prob­a­bly run into the mish­mash of dif­fer­ent num­ber­ing sys­tems for his works. There are in fact five sep­a­rate cat­a­loging schemes for Vivaldi’s instru­men­tal pieces, each with its own inter­nal logic, and there’s no sim­ple way to con­vert from one to another on the fly. It can thus be incred­i­bly frus­trat­ing to go from a schol­arly arti­cle to per­form­ing edi­tions to crit­i­cal or com­plete works edi­tions to record­ings, as each of those media may well ref­er­ence a dif­fer­ent num­ber for the same piece.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time think­ing about Vivaldi’s 39 bas­soon con­certi. The Meg Quigley Vivaldi Com­pe­ti­tion, for which I’m the Direc­tor of Oper­a­tions, uses a dif­fer­ent Vivaldi con­certo each time around. I wrote the liner notes for the first disc of Nad­ina Mackie Jack­son’s series of all the con­certi. Last year I cre­ated a new per­form­ing edi­tion of his Con­certo in g minor, RV 495. Through­out, I’ve been able to keep all the num­ber­ing sys­tems straight thanks to Jef­frey Lyman’s excel­lent Table of Con­cor­dances: Vivaldi Con­certi for Bas­soon. This table lists all 37 com­plete con­certi along with their des­ig­na­tions in each of the five num­ber­ing sys­tems, and builds on work by Trevor Cramer and George Conrey.

My only com­plaint about this table is that it presents the data sorted by only one sys­tem, which means that it some­times takes a while to hunt through the other columns to find what you’re look­ing for. So, I decided to make the com­pletely sortable ver­sion below. As long as you have Javascript enabled, you can click on any col­umn header to sort the by that num­ber­ing sys­tem. This should make it easy to locate whichever num­ber you need. I’ve also added in Vivaldi’s two incom­plete bas­soon con­certi, just for the sake of com­plete­ness. Below the table you’ll find expla­na­tions of the num­ber­ing sys­tems, if you care to know why we have so many.

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Updated Fingering Charts

Fingering Chart v.2

I first pub­lished my own bas­soon fin­ger­ing charts a lit­tle over two years ago. That post is far and away the most pop­u­lar on this site, and I’ve heard reports from all over of peo­ple using the charts. It was always my inten­tion to tweak the charts as I used them for teach­ing and received feed­back from other users. But I lost my source files shortly after pub­lish­ing the first charts, and have only been able to make very minor changes since then. Now, finally, I’ve rebuilt the things from the ground up and made some alter­ations that were long overdue.

The charts show my basic fingering(s) for each note. I may at some point add charts for alter­nate fin­ger­ings and/or trills, but they aren’t there yet. There are now four sep­a­rate ver­sions of my fin­ger­ing chart, suit­able for dif­fer­ent uses:

  • The Begin­ner Chart includes fin­ger­ings for the first three octaves of the bas­soon (Bb1—Bb4), uses only bass clef, and shows vent­ing rather than flicking.
  • The Stu­dent Chart extends up to E5, uses tenor clef, and shows flick­ing keys in red.
  • The Pro Chart goes all the way up to Bb5 for the adventurous
  • The Extreme Range Chart just shows the very top end of my fin­ger­ings, for those who don’t need any help in the stan­dard range

The charts now reside on their own sep­a­rate page under my Resources tab. That way I can just post future updates there with­out hav­ing to make a new post every time. Grab them here: Fin­ger­ing Charts.

AnyWhen Ensemble — The Bright and Rushing World

Douglas Detrick's AnyWhen Ensemble - Bright and Rushing World

I have long intended to write more here about spe­cific jazz record­ings that include bas­soon. I have many favorites span­ning basi­cally the whole his­tory of jazz, which I’ll get to even­tu­ally. But I’ve decided to start with a recent album from a band that’s new to me. Last month I received a copy of The Bright and Rush­ing World by Dou­glas Detrick’s Any­When Ensem­ble (thanks, Dad!). This, the group’s third album, was recorded in 2012 and released in March of this year. I’ve been lis­ten­ing to the disc on and off over the past few weeks, and I quite enjoy it.

The ensem­ble describes them­selves on their web site thus:

We believe in the unex­pected. Our sig­na­ture instru­men­ta­tion sets us apart, but we make our real impact through bold new com­po­si­tions that inte­grate cham­ber music con­cep­tion with jazz spon­tane­ity. We believe that great music can hap­pen any­where, any­how, any­why, and any­when — ours is fit­ting music for this bright and rush­ing world.

Indeed it was their uncom­mon instru­men­ta­tion that drew my atten­tion in the first place. The group is a quin­tet con­sist­ing of trum­pet (Dou­glas Det­rick), sax­o­phone (Hashem Assadul­lahi), cello (Shirley Hunt), bas­soon (Steve Vac­chi), and drums (Ryan Bie­sack). This very assem­blage of instru­ments seems to bridge the cham­ber music and jazz worlds rather nicely. Although they all cer­tainly appear in both realms, sax­o­phone and drum­set tend to be asso­ci­ated with jazz while bas­soon and cello tend to be asso­ci­ated with clas­si­cal music. Trum­pet is the one instru­ment here that com­monly appears in both musics, and it’s per­haps fit­ting that Det­rick, the group’s leader, occu­pies that linch­pin posi­tion. Det­rick also serves as the ensemble’s chief com­poser. In fact, the quin­tet got its start play­ing music for his grad­u­ate com­po­si­tion recital at the Uni­ver­sity of Ore­gon, where Steve Vac­chi is Pro­fes­sor of Bas­soon and Cham­ber Music.

The Bright and Rush­ing World is a sin­gle album-length com­po­si­tion, divided into ten movements/tracks. They aren’t all com­pletely con­tin­u­ous, but most flow into each other with­out sub­stan­tial breaks or strong cadences. The first word that came to my mind to describe this music was “atmos­pheric,” but that’s not exactly right. “Spa­cious” might be a bet­ter descrip­tor. Det­rick makes judi­cious use of silence, as well as trans­par­ent tex­tures. The pac­ing is also gen­er­ally grad­ual — themes, tex­tures, and grooves are given plenty of time for devel­op­ment. There are a few hur­ried moments, such as pointil­lis­tic inter­jec­tions in “Into the Bright and Rush­ing World.” But even these are rel­a­tively short, and are book­ended by silence, laid back drum grooves, and/or much sim­pler melodic mate­r­ial. It is often dif­fi­cult to tell exactly where the com­posed music ends and the impro­vised play­ing begins, which I imag­ine is by design.

Det­rick pro­vides the ensem­ble with many oppor­tu­ni­ties for explor­ing inter­est­ing com­bi­na­tions of tone col­ors. In the first move­ment (“The door is open”), sax­o­phone, cello, and bas­soon act like a sin­gle instru­ment, cre­at­ing a lush organ-like accom­pa­ni­ment for Detrick’s some­what mean­der­ing melody. In the mid­dle of the sixth move­ment (“You never thought to give a name”), the four melody instru­ments play over­lap­ping slith­er­ing lines, almost the sonic equiv­a­lent of a mass of writhing ten­ta­cles. Cello, bas­soon, and trum­pet var­i­ously emerge as solo lines from this tex­ture, then melt back into it. It’s a very cool effect, and I can’t really do it jus­tice with a writ­ten descrip­tion. What really makes these and other timbral/textural devices within the piece work is that these play­ers blend with each other excep­tion­ally well. This, com­bined with the fact that Det­rick often places the instru­ments (par­tic­u­larly the bas­soon) in extremes of range, stretches the listener’s ear, some­times mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to iden­tify exactly who is playing.

Although Det­rick cer­tainly has his own par­tic­u­lar treat­ment of tim­bre in this piece, it is not uncom­mon for a bas­soon­ist to appear in jazz groups that make inter­est­ing tone col­ors a fea­ture of their music. Sym­phonic jazz ensem­bles of the late 1920s and early 1930s employed all man­ner of instru­ments in an ongo­ing search for new and dif­fer­ent sounds and tone color com­bi­na­tions. The band­leader Paul White­man employed at least six wind play­ers who dou­bled on bas­soon, most notably Frankie Trum­bauer. Later, in the cool jazz of the 1950s, arrangers favored thick tex­tures and warm tim­bres. They made fre­quent use of instru­ments such as the bas­soon, French horn, tuba, and cello to achieve their desired sounds. Gil Evans, the most promi­nent cool school arranger, used bas­soons in his arrange­ments for Miles Davis, Char­lie Parker, Don Elliott, Lucy Reed, and Kenny Bur­rell, as well as on some of his own albums.

But while some sym­phonic and cool jazz groups kept their bas­soon­ists in the back­ground, Det­rick treats all of his play­ers as basi­cally equal here. I’ve touched on Steve Vacchi’s ensem­ble play­ing above, but he also takes sub­stan­tial solo turns in the third, sixth, and eighth move­ments. His solos are fluid, and he sounds at home in the mixed chamber/jazz idiom. Over the course of the album, he explores most of the bassoon’s range, from the bot­tom reg­is­ter all the way up to high E. The record­ing qual­ity is excel­lent, and Vacchi’s rich tone comes through quite well. Here’s the third track/movement, “A seeker, insub­mis­sive,” which has lots of promi­nent bas­soon work — Vacchi’s solo starts at about 1:48:

Buy/stream the album: Ama­zon | iTunes | Spo­tify | Naxos | Clas­sic­sOn­line

If that’s not enough to con­vince you to go buy this album, then you can hear more sam­ples here. The Bright and Rush­ing World is an inter­est­ing and valu­able addi­tion to the bassoon-in-jazz canon, and I’m look­ing for­ward to check­ing out the Any­When Ensemble’s two pre­vi­ous albums some­time soon: Walk­ing Across (2008) and Rivers Music (2011).

Spring Recitals

This spring, I’ve finally got­ten my act together enough to give nearly back-to-back recitals at CSU Stanis­laus and Sacra­mento State. The two pro­grams are very sim­i­lar, and fea­ture French music from the 1930s and ‘40s. I’ll be play­ing two pieces for bas­soon and piano, both con­cours pieces from the Paris Con­ser­va­toire: Gabriel Pierné’s Prélude de Con­cert sur un thème de Pur­cell, Op.53 and Henri Dutilleux’s Sara­bande et Cortège. At CSU Stanis­laus, these will be accom­pa­nied by Eugène Bozza’s Sonatine for flute and bas­soon. At Sac State, they’ll be paired with two reed trios: Jacques Ibert’s Cinq pièces en trio and Dar­ius Milhaud’s Pas­torale.

I’m espe­cially excited that the sec­ond half of each con­cert will fea­ture my swing quin­tet, Hot Club Faux Gitane (with Billy Gay and Eric John­son on gui­tars, Gary Williams-Guichard on man­dolin, Jake Myers on bass, and me on bas­soon). This group (seen in the posters below), is loosely mod­eled on Django Rein­hardt’s Quin­tette du Hot Club de France, which was active in Paris in the 1930s and ‘40s. I’ve been play­ing with the group for almost three years now. We play a mix­ture of the clas­sic gyspy swing reper­toire, other jazz stan­dards, tunes from the post-Django gypsy tra­di­tion, and orig­i­nals. This will be the group’s sec­ond appear­ance at CSU Stanis­laus, but the Sac State con­cert will be our Sacra­mento debut. Details and posters for the two con­certs are below.

Thurs­day, Feb­ru­ary 20, 7:30pm
Snider Recital Hall, CSU Stanis­laus, Tur­lock, CA (map)
Buy Tick­ets — $12/$8 stu­dents and seniors
With: Yan Yan Chan (piano), Jean­nine Den­nis (flute), and Hot Club Faux Gitane

Sun­day, Feb­ru­ary 23, 6:00pm
Music Recital Hall, Sacra­mento State, Sacra­mento, CA (map)
Buy Tick­ets — $10 general/$7 seniors/$5 stu­dents
Live Stream
With: John Cozza (piano), San­dra McPher­son (clar­inet), Deb­o­rah Shi­dler (oboe), and Hot Club Faux Gitane

Spring 2014 Poster - StanislausSpring 2014 Poster - Sac State

Posters for CSU Stanis­laus (left) and Sacra­mento State (right). Click for larger versions.

Klaus Thunemann’s Foray into Jazz

Michael Naura - Vanessa

The vast major­ity of peo­ple who have recorded bas­soon in jazz con­texts have been dou­blers who pri­mar­ily play sax­o­phone, such as Illi­nois Jacquet, Frankie Trum­bauer, and Ben Wen­del. A very small num­ber of play­ers (Paul Han­son and Michael Rabi­nowitz are the best known) truly spe­cial­ize in play­ing jazz on the bas­soon. But there is a third cat­e­gory as well: orches­tral bas­soon­ists who have occa­sion­ally ven­tured into jazz contexts.

In 1935, Sol Schoen­bach recorded four tunes by British jazz pianist Regi­nald Foresythe in a small group that also included Benny Good­man and Gene Krupa. Ken­neth Pas­man­ick, long­time prin­ci­pal bas­soon­ist of the National Sym­phony Orches­tra, played on two albums by gui­tarist Char­lie Byrd. And Manuel Ziegler, prin­ci­pal bas­soon­ist of the New York Phil­har­monic from 1957 to 1981, recorded a num­ber of albums in the late 1950s with Gun­ther Schuller, the Mod­ern Jazz Soci­ety, and the Mod­ern Jazz Quar­tet.

But one of the most sur­pris­ing (to me, at least) and impres­sive jazz out­ings by an orches­tral bas­soon­ist is Klaus Thune­mann’s appear­ance on Ger­man pianist Michael Naura’s 1975 album Vanessa (ECM 1053). Naura and Thune­mann are joined by Wolf­gang Schlüter on marimba, Eber­hard Weber on bass, and Joe Nay on drums. Schlüter and Naura worked together exten­sively, and Weber and Nay col­lab­o­rated with them on a num­ber of albums. But this is Thunemann’s only record­ing with the group, and as far as I can tell, his only jazz record­ing period. On the back cover of the album, Naura writes:

…we team up with Klaus Thune­mann, who is solo bas­soon­ist in the ‘North­ern Ger­man Radio Sym­phony Orches­tra’ (NDR), pro­fes­sor at the Han­nover Col­lege of Music, and who plays Schön­berg under Pierre Boulez equally as com­pellingly as he does Vivaldi with the ‘I Musici di Roma.’ I believe it was pre­cisely this dis­tance from which Thune­mann has for many years and with inter­est viewed jazz, that pro­vided the stim­u­lus which inspired us when we made this recording.

Thune­mann fig­ures promi­nently in three of the album’s six tracks. “Sal­va­tore” opens the album, and at 11:38, is by far the longest tune on the record. It fea­tures a soar­ing, lyri­cal bas­soon melody fol­lowed by two and a half min­utes of impro­vi­sa­tion by Thune­mann. Schlüter takes his turn, then the whole group engages in some very open-ended impro­vi­sa­tion, includ­ing some bas­soon mul­ti­phon­ics. The bas­soon melody returns at the end. “Baboon” begins and ends as a dirty, funky tune in which Thune­mann explores a rough and even some­times growl­ing tone. The mid­dle is a blaz­ingly fast group impro­vi­sa­tion that does not include bas­soon. Thune­mann gets a co-writing credit on the album’s last tune, “Black Pigeon”. It opens with almost two min­utes of bas­soon impro­vi­sa­tion — much of it com­pletely solo. About two min­utes in, it launches into a mid-tempo groove, with bas­soon melody and a long marimba solo from Schlüter. Thune­mann takes another solo turn before return­ing to the melody at the end.

All in all, this album con­tains the most exten­sive and impres­sive impro­vi­sa­tion I’ve heard from some­one we think of as a one of the giants of the “legit” bas­soon world. Thune­mann sounds at ease in the ensem­ble, and uses his con­sid­er­able tech­nique to great advan­tage, run­ning all over the horn and engag­ing in extended tech­niques such as mul­ti­phon­ics, growl­ing, and pitch bends. He even, much to my delight, explores realms of tone very dif­fer­ent from what you hear on, say, his well-known record­ing of the Weber Con­certo. You can read a more gen­eral review of the album on the between sound and space blog.

I learned of the exis­tence of this album while work­ing on my dis­ser­ta­tion on the bas­soon in jazz, and included it my discog­ra­phy. But at the time I wasn’t able to actu­ally get my hands on a copy — it hasn’t ever been rere­leased on CD. The first time I heard any of it was when Jolene Masone posted one track last year as part of the “Best Bas­soon Week Ever!” series on her blog. That one tune blew me away, and I renewed my search for the album, finally snag­ging a copy on eBay.

At this point in the post, I would typ­i­cally include one track trans­ferred from the album. But this time I can do one bet­ter — I man­aged to dig up and post video footage of Thune­mann with the Michael Naura Quin­tet play­ing “Sal­va­tore” at the Kon­gresshalle in Frank­furt am Main, Sep­tem­ber 27, 1974:


Be sure to check out the free impro­vi­sa­tion (includ­ing bas­soon mul­ti­phon­ics), which starts around the 10-minute mark in this live ver­sion. And if that’s not your thing, the band returns to the form around 12:25.