During my morning drive to work, I listened to two powerfully emotional songs -- one by Bob Brookmeyer and his New Art Orchestra and the other by Maria Schnieder, a one-time student of Brookmeyer.
American Tragedy, performed on the 2002 album Waltzing With Zoe. The liner notes claim that this is not about the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers (it was recorded before that event) but about the Supreme Court decision in the 2000 Bush v. Gore election. It's a dark, moody, somber piece in a minor key that can almost make me cry with sadness.
Hang Gliding, on the album Allegresse, is a rhythmically ingenious invention depicting the flight of a pair of hang gliders. The alternating measures of 6/8 and 5/8 create a sense of excitement and a feeling of precarious balance on the verge of falling. A trumpet solo over extremely sparse accompaniment portrays the solitude of floating through the atmosphere. I always feel exhilarated when I hear this piece.