Belding is a small town in West Michigan. In an effort to create more awareness and appreciation for jazz, the high school's band director (Jonathan Schnicke) instituted a concert series that emulates a coffee house setting for the music. The band takes over the school's cafeteria, decorating it in a coffee shop motif. The art department sets up a display of students' work (often for sale). And a coffee counter—selling brewed coffee, espresso drinks, and various cold beverages—is set up to one side.
In the middle of this the jazz band plays. Usually a guest artist or ensemble will participate, rounding out the evening. The community's response has been tremendous, filling the cafeteria for every event.
The band commissioned me to compose two pieces for their performance in March 2004. Given the setting for the concerts, I chose to use coffee as the concept for this music. The two pieces are:
Caffeine Jitters – featuring a flute soloist, this piece is a high-energy display set in a funky groove.
House Blend – as an homage to classic swing this piece selects several of my favorite swing conventions and roasts them to perfection, creating a subtly complex blend.