Composition No. 23D is a medium tempo line for extended improvisation that was composed in 1973. I composed this work in conjunction with the composite series of interchangeable structures of my creative quartet/quintet music pedagogy. all of the material for that pedagogy seeks to isolate given conceptual or material factors as a means to focus (or build) extended improvisation. Composition No. 23D is conceived as a vehicle that utilizes traditional structural and conceptual materials as a platform for dynamic involvement. The challenge of creative functionalism in the next time cycle will transcend any one criterion—and become all-consuming. What this means is that the creative person cannot afford to isolate his focus into any one area or medium. Composition No. 23D can be viewed as related to the seriousness of what this challenge will pose in that the reality of its underlying science seeks to reintroduce traditional criteria so that the composite continuum of Trans African—and composite world creativity—is extended or kept totally involved rather than simply discarded. In attempting to maintain this composite connection, Composition No. 23D can be viewed with respect to its position in my 'line' series of extended compositions—that being, as another addition to my attempts to resolidify—when possible—a complete creative effort (that has always been connected to its source continuum). Composition No. 23D is dedicated to the composer instrumentalist Fred Anderson.
The traditional science underlying Composition No. 23D involves both the reality of its conceptual materials as well as the nature of its functional design. This is so because the work is a thematic generating structure designed to be utilized in the traditional context of trans African pedagogy. All of the various components in Composition No. 23D's infrastructure material can be viewed in thematic and melodic-like terms. For the instrumentalist the terms for extended—or participating—in Composition No. 23D are very clear, because every aspect of its design can be approached melodically (with respect to its phrase material design). Moreover the science underlying Composition No. 23D's material nature reveals the same consistency in its note to note design. This is a composition designed to utilize traditional-like phrase structures (even though a given phrase might be of a different or uneven nature than what seems to be traditionally correct) as well as an overall material shape. Composition No. 23D is designed and constructed with linear phrase and conceptual materials that when experience does indeed given the appearance of traditional development (and of course extends into traditional ideas concerning resolution and material structure). As such the reality of this composition does occupy a serious position in my multistructural coordinate music pedagogy series. Because Composition No. 23D has been designed to establish traditional functional tenets as a basis to activate that aspect of extended creative music. I have utilized this composition in an endless variety of master structure compositional mixtures so that the quartet could have this most basic and serious avenue of expression (as well as the sixty and some other areas of focus available in my composite quartet series of works). Composition No. 23D was conceived as a traditional structure affirming post-Mingus/Coleman functional dictates in that the reality of its components are designed to springboard an open use of conceptual and material dynamics. After the piece is executed there are no structural or harmonic devices for its extended treatment—which is to say the instrumentalist is given conceptual materials without designated extended terms. I originally designed this work as a vehicle for my traditional quartet touring ensembles—for alto saxophone, trumpet bass and drums. Composition No. 23D is designed as structure that would affirm the traditional operating context of the music in its use and understanding of instrumentation. The dynamics of its functionalism calls for a soloist/rhythm section type of music that respects and extends traditional pedagogical devices. In dong so Composition No. 23D has provided a valuable color for my quartet music.
The composite form of Composition No. 23D is A (A2) A3 B C A—Coda A4 D E (A2) and each section introduces a particular criteria that can be commented on. Section A is the first principle thematic statement. This section, for the most part, can be viewed as the foundation and basic focus of the entire work. In actual terms Section A consists of five melodic phrases linearly constructed to solidify a composite shape. I composed Composition No. 23D so that the quartet could have a melodic line that floated over a walking bass foundation (the rhythm section in this has only limited devices under the written material.) The actual line itself is constructed as a unison phrase to be executed by the horns over the rhythm section (I have since created a special part for the piano that contained its own special harmonies—voicing to be played only during the written sections). The basic language reality of Composition No. 23D utilizes extended be-be-bop phrase devices—to be executed with the same spirit and vibrational attitute as be-bop. Section A2 is a primary generating phrase that underlies the composite material focus of Composition No. 23D. This material can be found, in various alterations throughout the total focus of the structure—including the re-entry construction of the work (that being after the solos have been completed—going back to the written material). In actual terms, Section A2 was one of the principle material factors used to compose the whole of Composition No. 23D. This is so because the body of the work was composed as a response to its primary material phrases (or devices) Section A2 would provide the material and conceptual focus for practically every section in Composition No. 23D.
Section B is the second principle material focus of Composition No. 23D. The reality of this section contrasted very sharply with Section A in both its language and conceptual slant. To start with the beginning of Section B is an open four-bar phrase for the two horns (or upper voices) to improvise in duet on. The material structure of Section B consists of sixteen note phrase patterns that are markedly different from the established material nature of the previous section. This material is structured in two two-measure phrases (which is to say, a four-bar section with two sixteen-note passages). The nature of this material is consistent with the traditional continuum of Trans African be-bop pedagogy and helps to dynamically open the music's rhythmic implications (and also comments on its extended treatment—using devices that inevitably will be included in the coming solos). Section C is a note repetition section that introduces additional conceptual possibilities into the music space and also functions as a transitional factor (or turn-around factor—as if the work was traditionally harmonic). After this material has been executed extended solos begin.
The final material specifics of Composition No. 23D are executed in the coda or repeat section of the work-space moving towards its completion. All of the material in this section has been designed to further clarify the composite reality of the composition—as opposed to providing generating material for its extended interpretation. Section D was composed to elaborate on what the material in Section A2 implied (in the first section of the music). The reality of this section reestablishes the material and conceptual specifics of Composition No. 23D and also shifts the responsibility of that device on to the rhythm section to prepare for the next section (where it assumes the role of a pivot point to anchor new material). Section E introduces the final material before completion. That material consists of two two-bar phrases that are repeated—which are then separated by a two-measure bridge phrase (and two measures of rest)—and finally re-introduced into a modulated version of its original design. Section E has been structured to utilize triplet phrase patterns that accent (and play) against the germ material established in the rhythm section from section A2. The use of this material serves to clarify and complete the composite nature of Composition No. 23D—that being, the nature of its conceptual focus and statement as well as what that focus poses for extension. As such the creative improviser has a spectrum of material possibilities that can be utilized from Composition No. 23D.
Composition No. 23D was premiered at the festival of Chatavallon in 1973. The musicians on the performance were Kenny Wheeler, J.F. Jenny Clarke, Clarence Bobo Shaw and myself.