Review by Brian Shook, assistant professor of trumpet, Lamar University, published in the January 2012 issue of the International Trumpet Guild Journal (Volume 36, No. 2, page 89).
“Bob Gillis’s Three for Three was the First Prize Winner of the 2009 ITG Composition Contest. As the extensive composer’s notes indicate, “The intent for this composition was to create a challenging piece that could be played by strong players who may not have a lot of experience improvising over these types of harmonic structures or playing with this kind of rhythmic phrasing.” Three for Three is essentially a mini jazz set that is based on three original jazz pieces written by Gillis: Needless, Seeing Sad, and Best Guess. The composer has included the lead sheets to be used either as stand-alone pieces or as a reference for interpolating solo sections in the larger form of the work. The trumpet and saxophone lines throughout the composition alternate from being imitative, complementary, and contrary– never staying with one form for too long.
Three for Three opens with Needless, a thirteen-bar blues head in common time with a 12/8 feel and a multiplicity of intricately involved triplet figures. The transition into the ballad Seeing Sad removes the triplet feel with steady eighth notes on a single pitch, followed by slow syncopation in the right hand [another excerpt is seen on the right…click on it for a larger view]. For acoustic variety, Gillis suggests for this section to be played on fluglehorn, but he also encourages the performer to experiment with other horns and mutes. Throughout Seeing Sad, both solo parts are highly imitative with moments of quasi-improvisatory writing. The piano transitions again into the final third of the piece and introduces Gillis’s Best Guess. This up-tempo closing tune leads to a waltz-like section and ultimately comes to a rest with a long ritard.
While there are many aspects of Three for Three that may stretch performers, Gillis has presented a work in a non-intimidating manner with well-edited articulations, informative notes, and helpful lead sheets. The written range for trumpet is fairly manageable and extends from c-sharp’ to c-sharp”’, but the most challenging aspect throughout the entire work is rhythmic subdivision. With careful practice and attention to detail, rehearsing and performing Three for Three will produce great rewards.”
-End of Review-
Thanks for the review, Brian! Three for Three is available to all ITG members free of charge in the form of downloadable PDF files on the ITG Member website. A reference MIDI recording can be heard at the More Audio page of my website. For more information on the International Trumpet Guild, please visit their website.