"Smile Pretty" was composed in January 2020 for the Jazzkombinat Hamburg's "European Vibes" concert series in Germany.
A quintessential big band Waltz with a lot of attitude, the composition follows a simple ABAB' form throughout and features a trombone solo about 60% in. The piece has an unusual character — one that colors the music frequently with abrasively clashing harmonies and sporadic interruptions of the "waltz" time feel.
The head's melody also fluctuates between tonal centers, implying an "Ab dominant" tonic in constant juxtaposition with Db dominant, thus engendering some sort of obvious identity crisis at the very base of the music itself.
With its robust, mechanical energy — and peculiar textures aplenty — this composition represents, in its purest form, the humorously performative notion of "pushing through" and "smiling pretty" when the going gets tough.
from MSM Jazz Composers' Showcase (Feb 2020)