Larry McDonough has been composing and arranging music for school music programs for over thirty years. He has written for chamber groups to orchestra, concert bands and jazz ensembles, focusing on exposing young musicians to jazz harmonies and rhythms, improvisation, and uncommon time signatures.
The original piece “A Rose for Two in 5/4” is from the Fingersteps Project, in which compositions are based on melodies written by children with disabilities with adaptive computer equipment. “A Rose for Two” is based on melodies written by McDonough’s daughter Rosie, and Jennifer and Patrick, children of Fingersteps creator Dan Moffatt, http://www.fingersteps.org. Rosie wrote the A section melody, Jennifer and Patrick wrote the B section melody, and McDonough placed them over shifting minor harmonies and a 5/4 meter. It is performed by the St. Paul Central High School Orchestra under the direction of Matthew Oyen.
The original piece “Namekagon” is named after the Northern Wisconsin river, and based on the concept of Jobin melody, harmony and rhythm applied to the environment of North America. It begins with the illusion of 3/4 in the percussion and cascading lines and 3/4 and 4/4 over a tritone progression of FM7 and B7 before moving into the main body of the piece, with each section of the jazz ensemble taking the melody at different points, ending with the introduction repeated. It is performed by the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band, under the Direction of Phil Holm (track 3), and the St. Paul Central High School Concert Band under the direction of Matthew Oyen (track 7).
“Summertime in 7/4” is a challenging arrangement for jazz ensemble. It is in the meter of 7/4, and unusual meter for music in general, and jazz in particular. Each bar has the feel of a 4/4 bar followed by a 3/4 bar. The piece also moves between several rhythm patterns or “groves,” including New Age (light feel with straight 8th notes), Latin (louder and intense, with heavy percussion and straight 8th notes), and Swing (swing 8th notes). The arrangement challenges the musician to focus both on the odd meter and the constantly changing groves. It is performed by the St. Paul Central High School Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Matthew Oyen.