Music, School of


First Advisor

Thomas Larson

Date of this Version


Document Type



A Doctoral Document Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Musical Arts, Major: Music, Under the Supervision of Professor Thomas Larson. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2018

Copyright 2018 Andrew Thomas Janak


“Midwestern Portrait” for Chamber Jazz Ensemble and Solo Tenor Saxophone is an original composition consisting of three main movements, an introduction, and two interludes. The piece is written for a full ensemble of 17 musicians – one solo tenor saxophone, four woodwinds, four brass, four strings, and four rhythm section players. The “Introduction,” “Interlude 1,” and “Interlude 2” feature smaller performing forces while the three main movements (“For GK,” “The Tradition,” “The Search) are written for the full ensemble.

“Movement 1: For GK (Lincoln)” is a tribute to my time at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and showcases the solo tenor saxophone with a series of virtuosic, intervallic melody lines. In “Movement 2: The Tradition (Omaha)” tropes of the jazz tradition such as swing rhythms and single line melody are juxtaposed with non-standard techniques not commonly found in large ensemble jazz music including synthetic harmonies and collective improvisation. This movement both pays homage to and goes against the jazz tradition that most young jazz musicians (myself included) grow up learning and trying to emulate. The final movement of the piece, “Movement 3: The Search (Chicago)” has several different style and tempo changes throughout, forcing the tenor soloist to improvise over a ballad feel, uptempo swing, and a backbeat. These changes in style symbolize my search for a musical identity in the massive and eclectic music scene in Chicago.

“Introduction,” “Interlude 1” and “Interlude 2” take harmonic, rhythmic and melodic elements from the three main movements and transform them into short, stand-alone pieces featuring some of the non-traditional jazz instruments in the ensemble (oboe, strings).

Advisor: Thomas Larson

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