In the Hands
Paul Cantrell’s music
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Nomade à Clef

I don’t usually write jazz tunes, but my friend Todd asked me to write one for him. It sounded like fun, and he had written several great pieces for me, so I took up the challenge. Nomade à Clef is the result.

Todd premiered it at this year’s Keys Please, with David Edminster on tenor sax, and I think they did just a marvelous job with it. They really made it fly. I only wrote a lead sheet (just melody and chords) with a bare-bones piano part underneath to suggest voicings in the piano — the rest of the work is theirs, including Todd’s solo intro and all of David’s development of the melody. I feel like this recording is their piece more than mine … and that feeling is a good one, the pleasure of a successful handoff. I suppose this is the nature of jazz? No, it is the nature of all music written by one person and performed by another, no matter how explicitly notated or how little improvised: in playing music, if we play it well, we necessarily make it our own.

Recorded live in concert, here is…

Nomade à Clef
David Edminster, tenor sax, improvisation
Todd Harper, piano, improvisation

The title means “Nomad in a Key,” a wanderer with a home.



Exceedingly well said, Paul. An idea communicated through music, be it performer-audience or composer-performer, is such a neat feeling.

Very nice piece and extremely nice performance, too.