Completely Natural

Now online: A recording/video documenting Alvin Singleton’s set of piano variations, Mutations, performed by Jackie Leung. From 1966, this is an early piece from Singleton: florid, dissonant, and intense, especially when compared to more recent spacious masterpieces.

When I interviewed him, Singleton told me how much he liked Herbie Hancock, and that he was at the 1964 Philharmonic concert that produced the Miles Davis albums My Funny Valentine and Four and More. Perhaps I hear a taste of Hancock’s more abstract harmonic language in Mutations, especially as the piece finds a slower, jazzier space around 4:45 in the Leung performance, the transition from the 3rd variation into the epic 4th variation. The whole piece is great; as far as I know, this is the first recording.

[…Hancock studied Olivier Messiaen’s modes of transposition…]

In 1998, Mark Turner recorded “Bo Brussels” on In This World with Kurt Rosenwinkel and two drummers, Jorge Rossy and Brian Blade. In the background of the composition is Messiaen’s third mode. Another great piece!