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August 2014
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When Pink Floyd Meets Mingus and Bach


Live from St. James Cathedral, Tuesday at 5:45 pm

It’s hard to peg Chicago composer/guitarist Jason Seed, other than as a well-rounded musician. As such, he delights in music and doesn’t worry so much about iTunes categories.

Jason Seed’s credits include jazz bands, rock bands, collaborations with Baroque Band and Bill Frisell. He’s also been around the “new music” scene, playing composers like Michael Torke.

He performs around Chicago with the Jason Seed Stringtet, a group featuring himself on guitars and string players from the Chicago and Milwaukee Symphonies.

This week, Jason Seed dons his composer’s hat. In a piece commissioned by the Rush Hour Concerts, he will help the organization celebrate its 15th anniversary, an occasion which has proven to be bittersweet with the recent and sudden passing of Rush Hour Concerts founder Deborah Sobol.

In a Q and A with WFMT, Jason Seed talks about the piece, which has its world premiere at Tuesday’s Rush Hour concert.


The Jason Seed Stringtet

Tell us about the new piece being written for Rush Hour. Title? What’s it like?

At Rush Hour is my musical sketch of the development of an organization of people with a common goal. Each section is written with some general stages in mind:

1. There’s an intro that represents the formation of the idea.

2. The first section is basically the idea starting to solidify, define and reform itself within a certain definition.

3. The next bit has more of a folk/jazz/gypsy-ish feel and represents the work aspect of the organization, and when that effort really takes hold. Things get much bolder and outspoken, confident, and strong.

4. The previous section ends feeling unsure of itself – maybe something bad has happened within the organization. This leads to a cadenza for guitar that quotes J.S. Bach’s 4th invention and is an homage to Debbie Sobol (the fourth invention was a favorite teaching piece of hers and was the first one I learned on piano years ago).

5. This all leads to a sad off-kilter tango. This is the organization finding its feet while feeling the loss of its founder.

6. The last section is the reformation of the organization, with a new leader at the helm, as it carries on Debbie’s vision.

How did you come up with the name “Stringtet”? Is that supposed to mean inspired by chamber groups of the past, but with a little something extra?

Stringtet is a way of describing the group without tacking a number on it. That’s honestly about it; although I think it does get a chamber music idea across.

How would you describe the Jason Seed Stringtet? What are the major influences?

My major influences are Astor Piazzolla, J.S. Bach, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Steve Reich, (early) Pink Floyd, (some) Stravinsky, and many others.

The Jason Seed Stringtet performs At Rush Hour in a concert starting at 5:45 pm on Tuesday evening at St. James Cathedral. WFMT’s live broadcast of the concert will be hosted by Dave Schwan.

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