snapshot of score of Music for an Imaginary Ballet

Music for an Imaginary Ballet

for jazz/rock sextet and orchestra — 1976

The exact details of this are hazy now, but in 1974 or ’75 I was approached by a strange woman who had got my name from somewhere and had a large scale ballet project in mind, for performance in the Royal Albert Hall, no less. I recall coming up with some sketches, which I played through to her as best I could on the piano. She was enthusiastic, especially about my plans to use both jazz/rock (I had in mind some of the musicians from my Perfect Stranger band) and ‘classical’ elements. I even went with her to meet Miss Herrod, who was at that time in charge of the bookings at the RAH (and who achieved notoriety over the cancellation of a performance of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels) to discuss booking the hall. It all came to nothing, I never received any payment and the strange woman vanished from everyone’s radar.

By this time I was left with a fair amount of material, which I showed to my conductor mentor Elgar Howarth. He thought it looked interesting but needed pulling into some sort of shape, which I set about doing, ending up with a c.23 minute piece in five continuous sections.

The sextet parts are a mixture of written and improvised music: the rhythm instruments (guitar, keyboards, bass, drums) provide improvised accompaniment at various points, and all six have designated improvised solos. The orchestral music is for the most part relatively conventional, although there is some quasi-aleatoric writing here and there.

I have made a MIDI recording which you can hear below, but please note: I’m not really a jazzer, so the improvised solos in this recording are distinctly dodgy! On the other hand I couldn’t just leave them empty, so please don’t take them too literally, and try and imagine what really good jazz players might come up with.

Score extract (PDF)


Performances / broadcasts / recordings

Listen to MIDI version (22:57)