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Donald WomackThree Bluesviolin, violoncello, piano23:002001
1. A Cool Blue
2. A Quiet Blue
3. Blue Blazes

Over the course of several years leading up to this piece, I found my music moving more and more toward the idiom of jazz. In this time several pieces progressed from incorporating subtle hints of it to outright stating their jazz roots. Three Blues is the logical outcome of this progression, and represents my most explicit venture in that direction.

A Cool Blue is just that – a cool, laid back piece with nearly constant swing syncopation. A simple theme, slightly off center tonally, makes up the bulk of the movement's material. What begins easily, gradually builds to a series of climaxes, with shades of be-bop and funk. After a final high point, followed by a downward sinking, a violin cadenza ends the movement in a smoky haze.

A Quiet Blue is a straightforward lyrical vocalise, somewhere between concert music and cocktail jazz. The chromatic nature of the harmonies supporting the melodic line lends a dark, somber beauty to the simple expressiveness of the melody. Would that life were so easy...

All hell breaks loose in Blue Blazes, the final movement. An aggressive opening becomes more and more frantic each time it recurs, until it finally explodes at the end. In between, strings spew sharp licks back and forth, a funky low theme gets tossed around a few times, and syncopated interlocking rhythms set up an uneasy background. After all the wailing stops, the ending simply evaporates in a wisp of smoke.

Three Blues was written for Trio Manoa, with a commission from the National Music Teachers' Association in conjunction with the Hawai‘i State Music Teachers' Association.