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Something Old, Something New

by Greg Runions Septet

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This tune dates back to the early nineties and is one of the first tunes I wrote that sorta hangs together well. The music was written during a period when I was under the influence of a lot of music by Kenny Wheeler. I tried to emulate his use of melody and countermelody and also referenced some harmonic sequences that could also be linked to Kenny's music. For the arrangement I put together some backgrounds for the solo section and took things out with some material that is a bit like a shout chorus you may hear in a big band.
Five Chords 08:48
Five Chords was written just a few years back for the Kingston Jazz Composers Collective. We played an earlier version of this in Kingston. I took this version and adjusted the parts for the seven piece group. Compositionally this tune initially tries to use a set of 5 different chords in a cyclical pattern to create the harmony for the first melody. This is stated by the bass and then the tenor sax. After the opening section each soloist (tenor, vibes, guitar) gets a slightly different passage to play over - Unlike many jazz tunes, this tune is through composed, we never return back to the top to restate the initial melody - just one long development.
John Macleod, flugelhorn - Jon Stewart, tenor saxophone - Dave Barton, guitar - Greg Runions, vibraphone - Brian Dickinson, piano - Artie Roth, bass - Mike Cassells, drums.
Small Blues 07:32
Small Blues is exactly that - a blues form of inconsequential stature. Compositionally inspired by the simple harmonic structure of another well known blues form, All Blues, this tune uses a similar structure but is set in a straight eighth groove and sounds a bit more contemporary.
Blues for Alfred is a 12 bar minor blues form with simple motivic head that features the perfect fourth as one of it's main structures. The tune had it first formal performance at a concert we gave at the Isabel Bader Centre. In honour of the occasion I changed the working title from "Minor Blues" to Blues for Alfred (Bader). The Bader's were instrumental in the development and funding of the new concert space at Queen's University. Musically - a simple 12 bar minor blues that avoids the IV chord whenever possible. This idea was stollen from a tune I heard Sting perform on one of his live albums. Lots of solos throughout here and some backgrounds that are reminiscent of the CTI sessions from the 70's with Stanley Turpentine (who we opened for at the Ottawa Jazz Festival several years ago). Sandwiched between the soloists is a short two chorus ensemble section. This tune brings the session to a close.


In late April 2017 I had the chance to collaborate with my big band and the Kingston Symphony in a concert of classic big band repertoire. Between rehearsals and shows we had a day off. Because I was able to hire many of my favourite musicians for the big band gig this meant that the members of a septet that I play with occasionally would be in town for day with nothing to do. I took advantage of this and booked the recording studio in the Isabel Bader Centre for the Arts in Kingston and we spent a day recording a few of my original tunes. The result is this collection of music. For the session I selected a mixture of really old compositions of mine with other tunes that are relatively new.

The band features the combination of trumpet/tenor, vibes/guitar and a rhythm trio of bass, drums and piano. I tried to create charts that were not just straight ahead lead sheet interpretations, but also had a minimal amount of written information - using selected backgrounds and a few ensemble sections. I think the mixture of written information and open improvisation spaces works well in this setting.

The recording sounds great - much due to the skill and dedication of Mike Cassells who recorded us live - while also playing drums on the session. The final mix also came out really great - a nice balance of all sounds helping push across the overall effect of the music.



released January 15, 2018

Greg Runions, vibraphone, compositions
Dave Barton, guitar
John MacLeod, trumpet/flugelhorn
Jonathon Stewart, tenor saxophone
Brian Dickinson, piano
Artie Roth, bass
Mike Cassells, drums

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Mike Cassells, Friday April 28, 2017 at the Isabel Recording Studio, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Lucas Ruddell assistant engineer.

Special thanks to Queen’s University Fund for Scholarly Research, Creative Work and Professional Development for supporting this project.


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Greg Runions Septet/Big Band Kingston, Ontario

Canadian composer and vibraphonist, Greg Runions, has been creating music for big band for about 25 years. Self taught as an arranger and composer, Runions started his own big band to help him hear his work and develop his writing. The band hails from his home town of Kingston, Ontario but frequently includes musicians from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. ... more

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