PIMPIN’ has become an outstanding work of the baritone saxophone repertoire. I thought that the best way to open the blog section of my website could be a personal comment about this work. I hope you find it interesting.

JACOB TER VELDHUIS (The Netherlands, 1951) is a very well known composer at the moment. His style, a fusion of classical and modern music which includes very critical comments on present-day subjects, has successfully connected Jacob TV with all kinds of audiences.

More information about Jacob TV, click here

Meaning and Structure of Pimpin’

Written between 2007-2008 for baritone saxophone and tape, is dedicated to two saxophonists and very good friends of Jacob TV: Connie Frigo, from the USA, and Willem van Merwijk, baritone player of the Dutch saxophone quartet Aurelia.

The tape contains male and female voices, double-bass, drums and wind section. There is also a version for saxophone quartet, featuring the baritone (the score is also included). The CD has two tracks to play either of them in a concert.

PIMPIN’ is a shaking funk of 8:32 minutes. The lyrics are sung, rapped and spoken in the USA pimps’ slang and thus show us their way of living.

It is divided in six parts that are played without interruption:

1.       MOUTH LIKE AN UZI (b. 1 – b. 29) / [0:00 – 0:44]

The baritone saxophone doubles the voice all the time. The music is incisive and powerful.

2.       CHARISMA (b. 30 – b. 102) / [0:44 – 2:54]

The baritone saxophone is the lead, and doubles singers and double-bass, which play together with the wind section using counterpoints and short solos.

3.       WHY AM I DOING THIS? (b. 103 – b. 129) / [2:54 – 3:44]

This is the most lyrical section of PIMPIN’. The atmosphere becomes calm and sad. The baritone saxophone accompanies the female singer, who reflects on the life she is trapped in.

4.       THE FULL 100% (b. 130 – b. 193) / [3:44 – 5:36]

The baritone saxophone follows the double-bass and voice lines. The funk style comes back and lyrics become aggressive and biting again.

5.       LIKE PICASSO (b. 194 – b. 243) / [5:36 – 6:55]

The baritone saxophone plays an independent voice in a fresh and cheeky funk style.

6.       HAHAHAHA (b. 244 – b. 297) / [6:55 – 8:32]

The baritone saxophone is the lead.  On the second half of this part of PIMPIN’, funk comes back.  A short remember of the third part appears at the final coda and suddenly the last two bars lead the audience to a hard end.

Watch the video:

Technical Work

From my point of view, the main technical difficulty of PIMPIN’ is the reading (there are lot of key changes) and the rhythmical precision.

PIMPIN’ has modern music elements as growl and bend and it is written in standard notation. There are some very fast excerpts (some of them with long ties between intervals) that demand a great control of the fingers and the blow speed on the baritone saxophone. Playing along the altissimo register demands a great technique too: G and Bb and, optional, C, D# and E.

The score contains the lyrics, some performing indications by Jacob TV, and some working advices by the saxophonist Connie Frigo.

It is necessary a very detailed work with the baritone saxophone part before playing with the tape, as Connie Frigo says in the introduction. The coordination process is not easy, because of the bar changes and the syncopated rhythms. The CD contains six working tracks (one for each part) with the voice, the double-bass and the metronome.

However, PIMPIN’ is very interesting to work and very pleasant to play in concert.

Performing Work

Undoubtedly, this is most exciting part of the working process after ending the technical difficulties.

Physical tiredness is one of the troubles you will have to face if you play PIMPIN’ for the first time with the baritone saxophone. The piece is technically very demanding and has to be played with lot of energy and concentration all through its 8:32 length… there is no time to relax!!

I think that it is necessary a good knowledge of modern music (it doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert, but you should listen a lot to be able to understand this kind of music). This knowledge will be a good help either to perform the variety of styles in PIMPIN’ (funk, rock, jazz…) in the correct way or to understand the performances of the rest of musicians (voice, double-bass, wind section…) you play with.

There are not many character indications in the score. Therefore, the meaning of lyrics and your knowledge in modern music, together with your imagination and creativity, will be decisive to play successfully PIMPIN’ in a concert.

English correction: Montse Jorba