David Ellis (b.1933) is one of Britain's senior composers and writes in a strongly individual and independent style. Safranski's Heroic Leaps was written for Double Bass 2000 and is a lyrical, dramatic and expressive work for the adventurous bassist. There are challenges to stimulate the technique, imagination and musicality of both performers, and opportunities to demonstrate the tonal and timbral qualities of the solo bass throughout its range. Both performers are equally matched, producing and effective and communicative work in a modern idiom.
The composer writes: 'One of my 'private passions' is an appreciation of the great Big Bands who worked through the 1940s and 50s with considerable commercial success, and who are still enjoyed by huge numbers today. Foremost was the Stan Kenton Orchestra with many popular 'hits' and much innovatory music from composers Pete Rugio, Robert Graettinger and Kenton himself. Underpinning this diverse repertoire, from 1945-48, was the legendary bass player, Eddie Safranski, who subsequently disappeared into the anonymity of New York studio session work, coupled with some teaching and, all too rare, public appearances in the jazz clubs. He died in 1974 at the age of just 55.
This short piece makes no attempt to reflect his specialism, but is in the nature of a Threnody for a musician with a unique talent; it is a set of musical anagrams, hence the title which can also provide devotees of crosswords with a challenge!'
Safranski's Heroic Leaps was premiered on 7 October 2001 at Wells Cathedral School (Somerset), as part of the 3rd Wells Double Bass Weekend, by David Heyes (double bass) and Mark Cracknell (piano). It was written for DOUBLE BASS 2000 and the commission was funded by The Ida Carroll Trust.
This edition includes piano accompaniments for both solo and orchestral tunings.