I connected with Prem Brosio through Twitter. After checking out his jazz guitar work, I messaged him about telling the story for “Béla’s Blues.” Now in Hawaii, Prem used to live in the St. Louis are near me. Truly a small world sometimes.
Prem Brosio’s Song Story
“Béla’s Blues” draws inspiration from two sources: blues music and the modern classical music of Béla Bartok. One compositional technique frequently used by Bartok is the juxtaposition of different tonalities such as major and minor together. Interestingly, blues music also uses this juxtaposition of major and minor to create those gritty, soul-wrenching sounds associated with the genre. I began writing this song several years ago and only recently revisited my composition.
Upon taking a second look at this piece, I re-harmonized the chord progression in such a way that deviates from the ‘traditional’ blues form using substitutions in a style similar to the jazz-blues progressions of the bebop era. Harmonic Odyssey, the band I was performing with, first debuted this song at Medici’s in Manoa Marketplace on Oahu in the spring of 2016. Grant Carvalho, the amazing jazz pianist whom you hear performing on the piece, recorded the song at his home in Honolulu.