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Asphalt Cocktail

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John Mackey

John Mackey

General Info

Year: 2009
Duration: c. 5:45
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Osti Music
Cost: Parts (Rental) - $375.00   |   Score (Purchase) - $60.00


Full Score
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
Eb Soprano Clarinet
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
Bb Bass Clarinet I-II
Bb Contrabass Clarinet
Soprano Saxophone
Alto Saxophone
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Trumpet (in Bb) I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Euphonium (2 Players)
Tuba (2 Players)
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbals (2 china, crash, EFX, hi-hat, splash)
  • Field Drum
  • Marimba
  • Metal Cocktail Shaker (2)
  • Mini-China With Trash Splash Inside
  • Small Metal Trashcan Filled With Metal
  • Tambourine
  • Tom-Toms (4)
  • Whip (2)
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Several years ago, when I was living in Manhattan, I was walking down Columbus Avenue with my good friend (and fellow composer) Jonathan Newman. Somehow, the topic of titles for pieces came up, and Newman said a title that stopped me in my tracks there on the sidewalk: “Asphalt Cocktail.”

I begged him to let me use the title. “That title screams Napoleonic Testosterone Music. I was born to write that!” I pleaded. “No,” was his initial response. I asked regularly over the next few years, and the answer was always the same: “No. It’s mine.” In May 2008, I asked him once again, begging more pathetically than I had before, and his answer this time surprised me: “Fine,” he said, “but I’ll be needing your first-born child.” This was easily agreeable to me, as I don’t like kids.

Around this same time, my wife and I were talking to Kevin Sedatole about his upcoming performance at the CBDNA National Convention. It was my wife who suggested to Kevin, after coaxing him with cocktails ourselves, that I write a piece to open his CBDNA concert, and that piece should be Asphalt Cocktail. Kevin told his friend Howard J. Gourwitz about the idea for the piece, and Howard generously agreed to personally fund the commission as a gift to Kevin Sedatole and the Michigan State University Wind Symphony. The piece is dedicated to Jonathan Newman, because without his title I’d have written a completely different piece, like “Bandtastic! : A Concert Prelude.”

Asphalt Cocktail is a five-minute opener, designed to shout, from the opening measure, “We’re here.” With biting trombones, blaring trumpets, and percussion dominated by cross-rhythms and back beats, it aims to capture the grit and aggression that I associate with the time I lived in New York. Picture the scariest NYC taxi ride you can imagine, with the cab skidding around turns as trucks bear down from all sides.

Serve on the rocks.

Asphalt Cocktail was commissioned by Howard J. Gourwitz as a gift to Dr. Kevin L. Sedatole and the Michigan State University Wind Symphony, receiving its world premiere on March 28, 2009, at the CBDNA National Convention in the Bates Recital Hall of the University of Texas at Austin, conducted by Kevin Sedatole.

-Program Note by John Mackey


State Ratings

  • Texas: V


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Glenn Hayes, conductor) – 20 March 2020 (Carnegie Hall, New York)(scheduled, but concert canceled)
  • Kent State University (Ohio) Wind Ensemble (Wendy K. Matthews, conductor) – 23 February 2020
  • Wind Symphony of Clovis (Calif.) (Christine Keenan, conductor) - 20 February 2020 (2020 CASMEC Conference, Fresno)
  • Dallas (Tex.) Winds (Jerry Junkin, conductor) – 11 February 2020
  • Pacific Symphony (Costa Mesa, Calif.) Youth Wind Ensemble (Gregory X. Whitmore, conductor) – 17 November 2019
  • Youngstown (Ohio) State University Wind Ensemble (Ryan Dutton, conductor) – 21 October 2019
  • Northern Illinois University (DeKalb) Wind Symphony (Thomas Bough, conductor) – 9 October 2019
  • San Jose (Calif.) State University Wind Symphony (David Vickerman, conductor) – 12 April 2019 (2019 San Joaquin Valley (Calif.) Concert Band Invitational)
  • United States Army Band (Arlington, Va.) (Andrew J. Esch, conductor) - 3 May 2018
  • University of Vermont (Burlington) Wind Ensemble (Chris Rivers, conductor) - 15 April 2018
  • Central High School (Fresno, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Leonard Ingrande, conductor) - 13 April 2018 (2018 San Joaquin Valley (Calif.) Concert Band Invitational)
  • Boston (Mass.) University Wind Ensemble (David Martins, conductor) – 10 April 2018
  • Central High School (Fresno, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Leonard Ingrande, conductor) -16 March 2018 (2018 Sutherland Wind Festival (Fresno, Calif.)
  • Central High School (Fresno, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Leonard Ingrande, conductor) – 7 March 2018
  • Arkansas State University (Jonesboro) Wind Ensemble (Timothy Oliver, conductor) – 9 November 2017
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Wind Symphony (Jaclyn Hartenberger, conductor) – 25 October 2017
  • Dallas (Tex.) Winds (Jerry Junkin, conductor) – 11 April 2017
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Wind Symphony (Kevin L. Sedatole, conductor) – 29 September 2016
  • The College of New Jersey (Ewing Township) Wind Ensemble (David Vickerman, conductor) - 8 March 2014 - CBDNA Eastern Conference
  • Musikkforeningen Nidarholm (Trondheim, Norway - Espen Andersen, conductor) - March 2012

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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