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The words that come to mind when I think of Ambrose’s music are commitment, focus, intensity, emotion, risk and uncompromising.  As I began writing this piece, I was listening to a track from his third album entitled “Marie Christie.” It’s a hauntingly beautiful piece that made me think of longing, loneliness and introspection.  I tried to capture this mood in the opening choral of the duet.  I was also thinking about Ambrose’s intervallic approach to improvising and the amazing virtuosity required to play these ideas.  I wanted the composed lines in the second half of the duet to sound as though they were improvised, and the improvisations to sound as though they might be composed, constantly weaving in and out of each other.

This final duet was the only one recorded in real time – specifically, the month of December 2015.  It was a grey moody day in the downtown loft district of Los Angeles – one of the more desolate parts of the city.  While Tchaikovsky wrote his December piece in a cheerful holiday mood, I always thought of this final month as a time for reflection and looking back.  The combination of the day, weather and space where we recorded felt just right for the piece.

As this series comes to an end, I want to acknowledge how much I've learned from everyone involved in The Seasons.  I'm very grateful to had had the opportunity to write a piece for each of these twelve musicians.  Again, I want to thank Taylor Eigsti, Joshua Redman, Matt Brewer, Eric Harland, Shai Maestro, Luciana Souza, Julian Lage, Mark Turner, Jeff Ballard, Gilad Hekselman, Aaron Parks and finally Ambrose Akinmusire for giving their spirit, immense creativity and musicianship to this project. I would also like to thank Alex Chaloff, the amazing video and sound director behind these episodic gems.  

Thank you for listening and all your support,

Ben Wendel
December 27th, 2015

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