Not Lilacs
trumpet, alto saxophone, piano, drum set

Robert Morris

Program Notes

Not Lilacs, of 1973, is a jazz composition as well as a rather rigorous twelve-tone piece. It follows the form of a typical jazz number: a "head"; followed by solos for trumpet, alto saxophone, piano, then drums; a recapitulation of the head ending with a short coda. While the head is a 12-bar, unison be-bop tune, the solos reflect a more avant- garde orientation. There is no improvisation for the melodic instruments (including piano) but the drum part is only partially notated. As I composed the piece the idioms of Cecil Taylor, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Mingus, Charlie Parker, as well as numerous other jazz artists were in my ears, all interwoven. The unique properties and sonic features of the row and its compositional dispersion allows the piece to have a great amount of pitch coherence both on the music's often polyphonic surface as well as over its entire temporal span.

The merging and emerging of highly different styles of and approaches to music into an integral whole has concerned me since the 1970s. From 1971 to 1976 I composed a trilogy of pieces that explore the notion of acculturation as a primary point of departure for composition. Not Lilacs, along with Varnum (for five melody instruments, drone, and percussion), Motet on Doo-dah (for alto-flute, bass, and piano), Variations on the Bull and Byrd (for two pianos), and Bob's Plain Bobs (for percussion quartet and tape), comprise the second part of this trilogy.