Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Bradfield, Geof. “Digging Down in the CBMR Archives: New Music Inspired by Melba Liston’s Scores.” Black Music Research Journal 34 (Spring 2014): 85-95.

An accomplished jazz composer and arranger who is little-known today, Melba Liston was able in her arrangements of existing compositions to render dramatically altered versions of existing works that highlight her own compositional ingenuity—namely, her unique harmonic and melodic language as well as her command of sophisticated motivic material. Her original compositions incorporate elements from other musical traditions, particularly African rhythms. Geof Bradfield’s 2012 composition Melba! takes Liston’s music as a model in a variety of ways. Bradfield sought, through careful analytical study of Liston’s musical scores (drawn from the CBMR archives), to take her use of African rhythms and themes as a model for his own compositions. He also sought to identify works by Liston that he could revise, arrange, or orchestrate. Both of these initiatives began with the analytical study presented here, which has resulted in a musical composition by Bradfield that not only borrows directly from Liston (using fragments of her music as source material), but programmatically celebrates her contribution to jazz. More broadly, Melba! incorporates stylistic elements drawn from a survey of Liston’s original compositions, as well as her collaborations with figures like Dizzy Gillespie and Randy Weston.

Works: Geof Bradfield: Melba!

Sources: Mary Lou Williams: Virgo (87); Melba Liston: “Bantu” from Uhuru Africa (88-92), African Sunrise (89-92), Just Waiting (90-92), Len Sirrah (92); Melba Liston and Elvin Jones: And Then Again (92); Melba Liston and Randy Weston: Cry Me Not (93).

Index Classifications: 2000s, Jazz

Contributed by: Molly Covington

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