Portraits for Wind Quintet
Composed by John Lewis
Edited and revised by Don Stewart
Published by Trillenium Music Company
Includes score and parts
Flute, Oboe, Bb Clarinet, Horn in F, and Bassoon
John Lewis (1920-2001) is now remembered as the painist and leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet, but he also played with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie's big band, founded the School of Jazz and was the organizer of Orchestra USA. And, he was a composer, with highly regarded film scores to his credit along with numerous other works, all of course jazz-influenced.
I had the opportunity to work with him as copyist, (a huge challenge), librarian, and instrumentalist. When the Boehm Quintette had a very special concert given to us, in Carnegie Hall, in February 1979, I approached John to make a new piece for us. He readily agreed to write five portraits for us; the first one came right along in December 1978. Nothing more for a few weeks, then in January, with the concert a month away, came II. Then nothing more, and we agreed that we'd present just the two. These were nicely received. However, after about three months the third came in the mail. We didn't fit that one (which is clearly drawn from his great success Django) into our schedule until much later. And only now are these great and unique pieces published.
From the composer's original manuscript, I have changed almost nothing. John Lewis was a most meticulous musician. However, his music does require creative playing from all participants, and successful performance demands a feeling for the jazz style of the 40's, 50's and 60's. Those who can bring this, should; you will enjoy these great little pieces. Note the very fast tempo in II and the opportunity for a bit of improvisation for Clarinet (or Flute) in III.
– DS, 2015