Professor's symphonic version of Coltrane classic debuts in NYC | UToledo News

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Professor’s symphonic version of Coltrane classic debuts in NYC

Dave Liebman, left, a recipient of the 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, posed for a photo with Gunnar Mossblad.

Dave Liebman, left, a recipient of the 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, posed for a photo with Gunnar Mossblad.

Gunnar Mossblad, University of Toledo professor of music and director of jazz studies, saw the world premiere of his latest symphonic work in New York City earlier this month.

“Meditations Suite,” a symphonic version of John Coltrane’s landmark recording, “Meditations,” was performed Friday, Nov. 5, at the Manhattan School of Music’s Borden Auditorium in New York City.

The premiere featured the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Philharmonic under the direction of Justin DiCioccio and renowned jazz masters Dave Liebman and Randy Brecker as soloists. Mossblad also played soprano saxophone for two movements.

While the original five-movement work is Coltrane’s, Mossblad is responsible for the arrangement for orchestra with additional composition. Liebman recorded Coltrane’s “Meditations” 15 years ago, and he and Mossblad continually have revisited the piece since.

The work has been Mossblad’s passion for nearly a year.

“This was a much more extensive project than I ever imagined, not only because it was for a full symphony orchestra plus big band, but because it also offered many challenges musically — both because of the improvisatory nature of the original composition and my deep spiritual respect for the music,” Mossblad said.

When he is not performing or teaching, he composes music for a variety of musical styles. To date, he has written more than 75 original jazz compositions in addition to numerous classical pieces and arrangements for various solo, chamber and large ensembles. His pedagogical materials for saxophone and jazz are published by Houston Publishing, Le Moine Music and the FJH Music Co.

Mossblad, who is the musical director for the Dave Liebman Big Band, has collaborated with numerous jazz and classical artists, including Marv Stamm, Royce Campbell, John D’earth, Hod O’Brien, Mel Tormé and John Coates Jr. He is the founder of Visions, a contemporary jazz quintet, and The Manhattan Saxophone Ensemble.

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