11. One For Milton

"One for Milton" is a tribute to the great composer, Milton Babbitt (1916-2011), a self-described "maximalist." We did not try to imitate of his style, but in the spirit of his music we took an atonal approach. Some passages sound to me reminiscent of Milton’s teacher Arnold Schoenberg.

I received the news of Milton's passing as I was preparing to record this album, and I felt a need to do something to honor him since he has enriched my life in so many ways. I studied theory and composition with Babbitt at Princeton University in the late 70s and early 80s. He was a giant in his field and he left a big impression on me musically and personally.

He was one of the most brilliant and eloquent people I've ever met. It was so inspiring just to be around him. He had a way of bringing out one's own inherent potential, because the more time one spent with him the more intelligent one became. In Eastern spiritual traditions a guru is someone whose very presence confers enlightenment. By that definition, Milton Babbitt truly fits the description.

There is a documentary about him here. I am one of the people who was interviewed in the documentary.

Russell Malone and Kenwood Dennard and I created this from scratch as an improvisation. I've always been a fan of Russell's more experimental side, and I'm proud that it got a good showing on this recording.