Yankee Doodle Mambo

Op.94 1983-94

David Hellewell

This piece was started in 1983, but not completed until 1994! Yes, the piece is a type of mambo, but is also closely related to the two-trumpet latino-mexican music idiom of, say Herb Alpert and the like. But the piece also has a boogie bass - usually entirely out of idiom in LA music, but here is essential for this solo piano piece (hence the long gestation period). The title comes from a cheeky little reference, in a break in the piece, to the Yankee Doodle song - yet another jazzman’s cheeky trait of interpolating a bit of popular music into a jazz solo.
In his teens Hellewell, whilst still playing jazz with a young Dixieland band, also formed a latin-american band amongst young friends. The band was offered a spot by the famous Edmundo Ros on his show in London, but the young Hellewell was ticket off in rehearsal by Edmundo for playing a boogie bass for the well-known piece “South American Joe”! Hellewell changed it, of course, but this incident shows how, even in those early days, Hellewell was more concerned about musical coherence and living performance than idiomatic purity (although he actually went on to become, at one time later, a professional LA pianist).
So although crossing the divides himself, in his ‘ multiu-dimensional’ music, Hellewell has very strong respect for individual cultural identity.

Return to Catalogue