Toot tooT was intended to be a free form, stream of consciousness piece that would exploit the instrumental timbres and virtuosity of the performers. However, the form of this composition turned out to be anything but free, and the thematic ideas are more a stream of subconciousness! This discrepancy between intention and realization became apparent only after Toot tooT‘s 2002 premiere, with the discovery of an unlikely connection between Prokofiev and Miles Davis!
The trio was composed during the bewildering span of time between 9/11 and the Iraq “conflict,” when most people were wondering what the future might hold for the world, and which subliminally must have inspired the battle marching quality of the outer sections of the piece. Brass can create an easy inference to military cadence, but here, these cadences are sarcastically self important, full of themselves really, and at times even childlike, mimicking toy rather than legitimate soldiers. (It seemed that the composer had a little subconscious disillusionment with the civilized world’s preoccupation with war mongering on his mind!) The subliminal reference to combat continues with the three-part form of the piece, which parallel those of Prokofiev’s 7th Piano Sonata, the War Sonata, composed in 1939. In both pieces, two rather bombastic outer movements are divided by a soft and schmoozy fantasy that tries to forget the on-going war. It is during this dreamy middle section that Toot tooT switches its subliminal inspiration from Prokofiev to Miles Davis and his affected Harmon-mute (specifically from his performance of Blue In Green by Bill Evans on the Kind of Blue album). Here a single pitch becomes a thematic idea in itself and a variation of the original toot-toot motive from the outer sections. In both pieces, the war tries hard to force its way through the peaceful reverie and back into focus, and eventually succeeds, as it always does.