Composition No. 23B is a thematic generating structure for extended improvisation that was composed in 1973. This work is conceived and structured in accordance with the collective body of my interrelated creative quartet compositions—to be utilized as a separate or integrated platform for establishing material and conceptual focus. Composition No. 23B is a fast pulse structure designed for the traditional creative music operating format and can be performed by the trio to sextet context. The work is structured for extended solo postulation with rhythm section support—this is true even though Composition No. 23B has no harmonic over-patter (or super-structure. Solos in this work are extended on top of a fast pulse rhythmic foundation and can be openly approached without regards for pre-established structural points. The dynamics of Composition No. 23B were shaped as a response for the composite platform of my creative quartet pedagogy. All of the works in this series are designed to activate particular focuses for the extended improviser—as a means to explore particular areas. I have performed Composition No. 23B extensively—throughout the whole of both Europe and America—in over four different quartet personnel changes. Composition No. 23B is dedicated to the actors Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
The reality of Composition No. 23B cannot be separated from its composite relationship to my series of 'atonal lines' for extended improvisation. What this means is that the science dynamics of this work must be viewed in the same terms of its earlier models—for instance Compositions No. [blank] and [blank]. All of these works were constructed from an open criterion that placed more emphasis on the weight of a given shape as opposed to the notes of a given pre-established series. The actual choice of notes in Composition No. 23B was selected based on what I heard during its moment construction. There are no extended harmonic devices in Composition No. 23B's infra-structure, and this is also true for its final rhythmic premises in the material and structural design of the composite work—which are discussed later. The most basic conceptual operative of Composition No. 23B was that its material design would utilize long extended phrase constructions for unison ensemble interpretation—either involving the reed and brass sections of any instrumental variation that served to accent the thickness or timbre of its material nature. In this context the conceptual dynamics of Composition No. 23B can be viewed through the post-Mingus/Coleman continuum of construction. The science of this work would solidify an extended linear 'line' platform as a basis to direct dynamic open improvisation input—without grounding the operational floor of the music in traditional procedure tenets. This is true for Composition No. 23B as well as my composite series of extended aspects from the tradition and casting new light on its procedure implications. When viewed with respect to its composite position in Trans African pedagogy. Composition No. 23B is really an atonal 'Donna Lee' with added language factors. The construction tenets of this work are not about abstract revolution but rather—continuity and hopefully growth.
The actual material decision underlying Composition No. 23B's note construction depends on what section of the greater form is focused on. In this context the three most basic construction tenets are (1) intervallic note positioning (2) diatonic phrase construction and (3) the use of repetitive phrase devices. The reality of Composition No. 23B's materials utilize all three tenets throughout its greater form—either employing one device in another. I have designed this structure to establish a dynamic platform for extended 'line-like' functionalism. The actual harmonic reality of this work is not its note to note decisions—in the infrastructure lining—but rather the vibrational realness of its total shape. Composition No. 23B is designed to establish a dynamic platform for extended creativity. This is true for its infrastructure design as well as its conceptual implicatiosn.
The composite form of Composition No. 23B is A (A2) B C (C2) A D and each section can be viewed with respect to both its conceptual and material nature. Section A utilizes intervallic phrase construction and establishes the basic terms of Composition No. 23B's design. Rapid eight note phrases are positioned over a stop time rhythmic basis that clarifies the conceptual and pulse nature of the work. The use of this technique re-establishes traditional stop time methodology but in a different context. Section A2 has a dual function in that it provides a stabilizing factor for the procedure dynamics of the music as well as a transitional bridge for section B. By stabilizing factor I am referring to the ability of an all half note phrase to re-establish and prepare the instrumentalist to accurately execute the coming rapid phrase materials in section B (and also section A since A2 is used as a preparatory signaling device to re-enter Composition No. 23B after improvisation). Section B is a continuum of the construction tenets of section A but with different notes. All of the material in this section extends the use of intervallic phrase construction in the same sense as Section A—while clarifying the composite reality of its material and conceptual dynamics. This is so because the material nature of Composition No. 23B does adhere to linear construction dynamics (that being 'the appearance of an idea developing or expanding into another idea in a linear sense). Section B basically extends the material and conceptual terms activated in Section A. The fourth section of Composition No. 23B represents a departure from this material and construction focus of its previous models. This is so because section C has been designed to establish phrase repetition in its notated material as well as walking periodic in its under-foundation. There are two different uses of repetition in this context—that being (1) diatonic repetition that maintains the principle slope (rhythm) but changes the actual pitches (in this case re-establishing each repetition on the next degree of the scale) and (2) static repetition—which repeats the same exact material over and over again. Section C establishes both principles as a working language in Composition No. 23B—as well as a conceptual criterion for its extended treatment. For structural purposes I have separated Section C into two basic divisions so that both categories of repetition can be focused on. the final section of Composition No. 23B's greater form is the coda material played at the end of its extended treatment. Section D utilizes another kind of repetition in that its material is both static and changing. All of the material in this section is repeated for predetermined cycles—from phrase to phrase—before completion. The use of this technique clarifies the material and conceptual intent of the composite composition, while also providing a dynamic tour de force for the instrumentalist to execute.
The first performance of Composition No. 23B was at the festival of Chatavallon in 1973. The musicians at that performance were Kenny Wheeler, Clarence Bobo Shaw, J.F. Jenny Clarke and myself.