Gunther Schuller’s Journey into Jazz
uses text by author and jazz critic Nat Hentoff. The story tells of a young boy’s musical journey. While the orchestra functions as a narrator of the work, reflecting various moods, the members of the jazz combo serve as characters in the story, with a solo trumpet representing the protagonist. While the musical material played by the orchestra is fully notated, the jazz combo often improvises from “charts,” indications of chord changes with melodic lines given occasionally. At one point, the solo trumpet is even featured in a completely improvisatory role, basing its melody on a given mood and the number of seconds it has in which to play. Journey into Jazz
is dedicated to Schuller’s two sons, jazz musicians who have since performed the piece under the direction of their father.