Violinist Rachel Barton Pine explores two of her longtime interests in her latest album, Blues Dialogues… shining a spotlight on underrepresented black composers, and (as a native Chicagoan) the Blues. It continues a project that she’s been working on for 15 years or so, compiling a database and resource guide for players to learn more about the composers, and shows how many tinged their contemporary compositions with the language or feel of the Blues. If you sign up for KDFC’s eNotes weekly newsletter (look in the orange box in the right-hand margin of this page) you’ll get a free download of a track from the disc this week.
There’s more information at Rachel Barton Pine‘s website.
“There is such variety. Each composer has their own take on blending these genres,” she says. Some, like William Grant Still and Duke Ellington (In a Sentimental Mood, in an arrangement by Wendell Logan for violin and piano) are well known, but many are names she’s come to know and find out more about in recent years. “I hadn’t been as familiar with Dolores White’s piece [a suite called Blues Dialogues], until I had the opportunity to work with her for a recital program I was doing, and I just absolutely loved her piece, and that actually inspired the whole album. I thought her piece also had a pretty perfect title, this idea of dialogue between blues and classical.” She also worked with Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, represented on the disc in Blue/s Forms and Louisiana Blues Strut. “He ended his career in Chicago as director of the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble. And his Louisiana Blues Strut has become an absolute favorite, I play it very frequently for encores after concertos, actually, because it’s for unaccompanied violin.” She says although some of the idioms of blues are used, each has its own individual style, and there’s a lot of variety. “One moment you’ve got wild Paganini techniques, and the next moment you’re doing blues slides. And I just love that juxtaposition… I just decided to make this album kind of celebrating my roots as a Chicagoan, with this collection of different composers’ approach to incorporating the blues as a building block in their classical compositions.