Steller’s Jay

Steller’s Jay for percussion ensemble
Publisher: C. Alan Publications (2015)
Composed: 2015
Duration: 2’30”
Difficulty: Medium
Instrumentation (8-9 players): bells, xylophone, vibraphone, 4.3-octave marimba, optional bass guitar, bongos, congas, cabasa, drumset

The Steller’s Jay greatly resembles the Eastern Bluebird, but lives on the West coast in the woodlands and coniferous forests of the Rocky Mountains and Northern Pacific coast states. The chord progression for this Steller’s Jay percussion ensemble is based on the “Bird Blues” – a complex adaptation of the 12-bar blues developed by jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker during the bebop era. The underlying groove is derived from a New Orleans Second Line feel, incorporating a secondary jazz element, but certainly with a bit of that cool “West Coast” jazz feel. Commissioned by Alison Brightwell-Balot and the Cesar Chavez High School Percussion Ensemble, this piece was written specifically for the C. Alan Publications Edge Series, a collection of percussion ensembles featuring many popular musical styles – from funk to calypso to techno.

The composer does a fantastic job scoring clever harmonic lines in the keyboards in addition to providing extra rhythmic support in the conga and bongo parts. In true stylistic fashion, we get full ensemble sections interspersed with delicate interludes; at times only two mallet parts with a soft hi-hat for rhythm. – Ben Coleman
Printed by permission of the Percussive Arts Society, inc.