Crossover considerations: performing three works by Ludmila Ulehla, Phil Woods and Bill Dobbins

John M. Perrine, Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College


When musicians prepare a piece of music for performance, they utilize various sources of background knowledge that are available to them. This knowledge can be organized into groups of stylistic attributes suited for the various genres that are in question. This process is made possible by the perspective that history provides. One can comprise a compendium of performance practices provided evidence exists of consistency throughout the style period being addressed. An exciting opportunity presents itself when dealing with the present time. The relationship between the collaborating performers of any music is a delicate one. This task is made challenging with the presence of a style of composition that combines jazz improvisation with historically established models of form. This difficulty is further complicated by the absence of consistent and widespread performance of works of this nature. The purpose of this research is to explore the different interpretive issues that must be considered when performing music of this kind, a style occasionally referred to as crossover music. The three crossover sonatas examined in this study are Sonata for Improvisation by Ludmila Ulehla, Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano by Phil Woods and Bill Dobbins’ Sonata for Soprano Saxophone and Piano. Although the backgrounds and compositional styles of these composers are very different, an integral feature of all three pieces is the presence of improvisation. These pieces represent the efforts of a contemporary composer in the case of Ludmila Ulehla, a well-known performing jazz artist in the case of Phil Woods and a seasoned jazz arranger and composer in the case of Bill Dobbins. Approaches to these pieces will be explored by performing the same series of analytical tasks on each piece. Each task will be implemented in a separate chapter.