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Composed: 2002

Length: 13 minutes

Orchestration: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 clarinets (3rd = bass clarinet), 2 alto saxophones, 2 tenor saxophones, baritone saxophone, 4 horns, 5 trumpets, 4 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (tom-tom/bongos, vibes/marimba, glockenspiel, bass drum, cymbals, tam-tam, vibraslap, large triangle, cowbell, wood block, suspended cymbal, guiro, slapstick, tom-tom), rhythm bass, drum set, harp, and strings

I wrote this piece at the request of Patrick Williams, a hugely talented and prolific composer/arranger and Artistic Director of the Henry Mancini Institute. It was to be a jazz piece that featured my son, Gerald, on piano.

I struggled with how to approach the piece - I wanted to involve the orchestra with the soloist but still leave the soloist plenty of room to improvise, since it was to be jazz oriented. Beyond these guidelines, I had to find a place for the influential men that I associate with the Henry Mancini Institute. Henry Mancini gave me my first professional recording job and allowed me to play on his TV show as well as work my way through college by touring with him for three years. My dear friend Jack Elliott was the founder of HMI and, as I mentioned, Pat Williams is HMI's current Artistic Director. All three of these gentlemen encouraged, supported, and pushed me. I always felt challenged by them, in the healthiest and most artistic way possible. The energy I received from them has lifted me beyond what I thought I was capable of. I am grateful for that.

So, the name of the piece, The C-Zone, has to do with challenge. I wanted to pass that inspiration, that inner push that we artists must have, on to my son and the orchestra. The challenges come in the music and soul that each person brings to the notes that I wrote. I hope you enjoy it.

- John Clayton