Donald Martino

Soliloquy (2003)

Solo vibraphone


Donald Martino is well known as a 12-tone composer, but he also had firm footing in the world of Jazz, as is evidenced by many Jazz-influenced compositions throughout his career.  Soliloquy for solo vibraphone is one such piece, although here the Jazz is significantly clouded by other elements in the composition.  From the first note, the vibraphone itself exudes Jazz through its sound and historical associations; later the playful figuration is suggestive of the charismatic noodling and swooning of an alto saxophonist heard through a smoked-filled bar room.  The tone here is much more formal, however, due both to the rigor of the pitch constructions and the sophistication with which Martino develops this character.  A “soliloquy”, in theater, is a character’s opportunity to express the thoughts running through his or her mind — a speech to oneself.  This character’s conflict is expressed by a constant shifting between rhythmic music and music played a piacere. Though spoken through a 12-tone voice, the arguments on both sides of the debate retain the charm of a Jazz improviser.  –Samuel Solomon