Mark-Anthony Turnage is looking towards the classic 1950s collaborations between Gil Evans and Miles Davis for his latest work. Scorched reworks 12 numbers by the guitarist and composer John Scofield for jazz trio and orchestra. Scofield, the bassist John Patitucci and the drummer Peter Erskine are joined by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for a performance of the piece in London.
"Just as Gil Evans messed around with Miles's tunes but kept Miles as the main protagonist, so I will do the same with John Scofield's tunes," says Turnage. "I built it up over a number of years, and wrote much of it as a relaxation while I was working on my opera The Silver Tassie.
"Some of the movements are just trio things, playing John's tunes pure. My bits are impure versions - he gave me licence to double the speeds, and to improvise on them. They're very straightforward and quite catchy, but I'm giving them long introductions and substantial codas - each one is several times longer than the original. And John will sail above it all." As Scofield played with Davis, the connection goes deep.
The programme describes Scorched as "ecstatic free jazz". Is that Turnage's phrase? "Absolutely not! It's orchestral jazz, a European composer's view of an American player. It's a hybrid - some of it is more like contemporary classical music."
Whence the title? "John's drummer suggested it - 'Sco' combined with 'orchestrated'. But John's playing could be described as scorched."
The other work being played is Turnage's A Man Descending for tenor sax, which he describes as being like The Lark Ascending in reverse. "The tenor sax is the opposite of the violin - a very earthbound instrument. Whereas the violin in Vaughan Williams disappears into the stratosphere, my sax goes down to its lowest note."
Tomorrow, 7.30pm (020-7638 4141; www.barbican.org.uk)Reuse content