On August 21, 2013 I directed a reading sessions of new big band arrangements and compositions for Long and McQuade Music here in Vancouver. This big event has held over several days and included sessions for new music for wind ensemble, jazz band and choir along with several workshops. The main point of these sessions is to expose and promote new ensemble music aimed at music educators.
The band in front of me that day was made up of teachers, students, big band enthusiasts and a couple of hired guns and their task was to sight read all the music in front of them, some of it quite challenging. I didn’t choose the music myself, that was up to the Long and McQuade folks, particularly Greg Passmore. We read through a huge range of styles, tempos and levels of difficulty. While new music reading sessions have been going on for many years, this particular year marked an important event - this reading session was combined with the annual Northwest Musical Services reading session. Northwest Music, founded by the late Bill Stonier in the very early 1970s, had just been sold to Long and McQuade Musical Instruments, marking a major change on the music retail and music education scenes. Not long after Bill established his business, he started the yearly Northwest Music new music reading sessions, always in late August, to promote new publications for concert band, jazz band band and choir. These sessions were a big hit with educators. Besides the exposure to newer music, Bill also added a big social element - there was the hang at the store, the hang at the venue, a harbour cruise and a barbecue at Bill’s home. On top of the socializing between the educators Bill also made sure to bring in the composers and arrangers of the new music and they were always a big part of the hang. I worked for Bill at these events for 2 summers in the mid-1970s right after I graduated from UBC and I remember the reading sessions vividly and through those experiences I was able to meet some wonderful writers and educatotrs. They were great fun for everyone. Bill was, and still is I think, a major figure in the music retail business. Many of his then new ideas have been successfully incorporated into other music stores.
Anyway, many of the teachers who attended the reading session, and some that did not attend, have asked for my thoughts on the music we read through on that Wednesday morning. So, I thought I might post my notes here. I don’t know how helpful they will be, as they are very informal. I didn’t mean for anyone else to read them, they were notes I made for myself in preparation for the reading session. There are some excellent charts in this collection so I’m sure everyone should be able to find a few things that will fit their program. Besides my short notes, I should note that most publishers have mp3s of their publications that can be streamed or downloaded for study. A few allow you to look at the full score.
The 2013 L&M Jazz Ensemble Reading Clinic
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
1.) Things Ain’t What They Used To Be - Mercer Ellington/Rich Sigler Grade 2 Belwin
Rich Sigler is jazz trumpeter and current music director for the USAF Airmen of Note.
- Med Blues in Bb with some reharmonization.
- Simplified melody (missing part of the initial triplet)
- Playing pickups - m.1- m.4 especially with other sections picking off the last 1/8th (trbs) can be a little difficult for some students.
- Awkward phrasing in m33-34 (tenors/trbs) While the phrasing does work I found the students were able to grasp the phrase by making the 1/8th on beat 3 (m.33) and beat 1 (m.34) long
- Have fun with the length of the fall. Students often short change falls. Have fun playing falls with different lengths, but remind them to keep the air moving to sustain the sound.
- The solo section - Alto 1 (2 choruses), Trpt 2 (2 chor)
- M.79 the trbs shifting between voiced support of trumpets and the Bb plunger notes is a little awkward, especially for smaller students. The plungers can be omitted, which makes the phrase a little easier to play.
- You can add solos. Maybe some piano off the top. Maybe use the piano solo as the intro and start playing the written intro the last 2 and a 1/2 bars of the 12 bar blues form. That is, all the horns will have a 10 and a 1/2 bars rest.
- I used this very nice chart with 12 to 15 year olds at the 2013 UBC Summer Music Institute with great success.
2.) Top Dog - Greg Yasinitsky Grade 2 Kendor
Saxophonist Greg Yasinitsky is the Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Regents Professor of Music at Washington State University.
- Med Up Blues in F
- Some nice simple tutti writing that can really roar, especially the forte pianos.
- M.10 the anticipation followed closely by a downbeat can feel a little awkward as the tendency is want to play the next note as an anticipation as well. I think of these as rhythmic speed bumps.
- Nice stop time chorus
- Solo space for trpt 2 (2 chor) which can be opened up. Try adding improvised bkgs based on the blues scale
- Sax soli - manageable
3.) It’s Just You and Me - Fred Stride Grade 2.5 Sierra
- Written for the UBC Summer Music Institute
- Ballad - alternating between swing and even 1/4s
- To work on shaping of phrases, blend, tuning, releases, time (hard because of slow tempo), dynamic range
- Solo space for piano - written or changes
- The short 4 bar interludes can be improvised. I’ve used vibes as the soloist. Could also be guitar or even a harmon muted trumpet - D Dorian/Eb Dorian
4.) It’s Only a Paper Moon - Michael Sweeney Grade 1.5 Hal Leonard
- Medium swing
- Classic Harold Arlen standard
- Trombones have the melody
- Nice sectional contrasts through chart
- Solos - Trb, Trpt
- Nice ending, a bit of a surprise with some new material and a crescendo to the end.
5.) Old Devil Moon - Rick Stitzel Grade 1.5 Hal Leonard
- An accessible, very short, medium easy latin (bossa nova) and swing chart
- The change to and from latin to swing can be a challenge without changing the tempo
- Solo space is for trpt 2. You could also treat this as a trumpet soli. But be careful, as the of return of the tutti may tire the trumpets, especially trpt 1.
- To lengthen the chart a little you could add solo space by using the DS twice (horns do not play m.68 the 1st time. On the first DS maybe add a piano or guitar solo. Solo down to m.68 then do the DS again as written, this time playing m.68.
- Bkgs are not necessary, or even desirable, for piano solos. However, the trb/bari figure at m.53 to the down beat of m.59 might be nice behind a guitar solo. The trb bass line at m.59 would be better behind a guitar or horn solo.
6.) Mack the Knife - Kurt Weill/Rich deRosa Grade 1 Belwin
Rich DeRosa is an associate professor at the University of North Texas where he is the director of jazz composition/arranging studies
- Scored for 5 saxes and 6 brass. Will work for 2 altos, 1 tenor, 2 trpts and 1 trb.
- Medium swinger, begins with the big intro and settles into a nice 2 beat feel. The hi hat technique is suggested on the score (part?) but is incomplete. The hi hat is always played open-closed-open-open-closed-open. IE - only the “ands” of beats 2 and 4 are closed. This gives the HH more sustain and keeps the groove moving
- Nice open 5 part sax voicings at m.37
- Solo - Pno (16) Trpt 1 (16), Alto 1 (16), Drs (have player improvise own but be aware of the ensemble ins and outs. Think of solo fills as rhythmic connectors. Each fill needs to come out on a beat to make the next horn entrance clear.
- This chart could use a few more rehearsal markers (the score has them every 16 bars).
7.) Misty - Erroll Garner/Terry White Grade 1 Belwin
Terry White, a veteran music educator in the Portland Maine area, is also an active a trumpet player and arranger/composer.
- Slow swing ballad.
- Scored for 5 saxes and 6 brass. Will work for 2 altos, 1 tenor, 2 trpts and 1 trb.
- Intro is a borrowed from a Tadd Dameron tune - On A Misty Night - a very subtle connect via tune titles.
- Melody is set in a Li’l Darlin’ soft tutti style
- Avoid playing this too slow.
- This chart provides opportunities for working on dynamic contrast, as the melody moves up and down in register, blend, tuning and pulse.
- Solos - Alto 1 (8), Trpt 1 (8)
- I suspect the 1st trumpet note at m.58, the second note ,should be a written G (see Alto 1).
- A nice ensemble chart, it is probably better suited to a grade 2 or 2.5 level band due to the slow tempo and slightly more advanced swing rhythms in the melody.
8.) Jive Samba - Nat Adderley/Terry White Grade 1 Belwin
- Scored for 5 saxes and 6 brass. Playable by 2 altos, 1 tenor, 2 trpts, 1 trb.toned minor7th chord (Dorian mode).
- Simple latin (bossa with ride) or light rock type feel.
- A re-harmonized arrangement, changing the funky 7th(#9) chord of Nat Adderley’s original to the lighter and lowered to D minor instead of the original key of F. The lower key makes it a little more playable by young players. While Thad Jones stayed with the original dominant chord changing the harmony has been done by many arrangers, such as Pat Williams.
- Melody for small group Trpt 1, alto 1 and tenor 1 - then a change to trpt 2 playing lead over both altos and tenor 1. After the familiar tutti phrase trpt 1 plays over the 3 saxes.
- There are 2 solo sections - #1 is assigned to Tenor 1 (but the solo is cued for alto 1). Solo section #2 - is assigned to Trpt 1, but is cued in Trb 1.
- There is no additional ensemble writing. Strictly melody and solo space.
9.) Mood Swings - Lennie Niehaus Grade 3 Kendor
Lennie Niehaus, a prolific arranger and composer, was lead alto and soloist in the 1950s with Stan Kenton. He has also been involved with film scoring, notably with Clint Eastwood.
- Medium swing - to slow rubato (a cappella) - to jazz waltz. The shift to the jazz waltz will take a little preparation. Drs give a 1 bar setup (fill).
- The ride cymbal pattern is written as 1/4-dotted 1/8-16th, but should be played as if seeing 1/8ths
- M.3 and m.7 are challenges due to the downbeat after the anticipation.
- Lennie loves sax solis (m.55). This one will be a challenge.
- The chart returns to 4/4 at m.55.
- The saxes are followed by a brass soli with Trpt 2 on the lead (m.69). Trpt 1, and Trb1 re-enter with the powerful tutti at m.71
- Solos - the solos section is long - 32 bars. The solos are open. Bkgs are behind the second A and the bridge.
- Big strong tutti at m.111
- Piano solo at the bridge. Lennie suggests guitar or bass could possible solo on the bridge.
- The rhythm section parts contain only chord symbols. No written bass or piano parts.
10.) Stuck in a Groove - Lennie Niehaus Grade 2 Kendor
- Another easy feeling medium swinger by Niehaus.
- Tutti intro with a nice inner moving Trpt 2 line which is not easily audible on the demo recording. To strengthen the line maybe write it out those 6 bars for Alto 1. The written Alto part is duplicated in the trbs.
- Alto 1 and Trpt 1 have the melody.
- Lots of ensemble throughout.
- The solo section is long (32 bars). For younger players, which this chart is designed, the solos could be shortened to 8 bars each. You could even have soloists trade 4s.
- the RS parts are written out
11.) Gentle Rain - Kris Berg Grade 4 Belwin
Bass player, composer, arranger Kris Berg is the Director of Jazz Studies at Collin College near Dallas, Texas. Has his own big band - Kris Berg & the Metroplexity Big Band.
- Pretty bossa nova arrangement of the Luis Bonfa classic. Has a ballad-like attitude.
- The melody is played by an outside soloist - flugel on the demo recording.
- Calls for 4 flugel horns throughout. These can be covered with the trumpets pointing their bells in the stands (not too close) this will take the edge off the sound of the trumpets.
- The trombones need bucket mutes throughout. Again, pointing into the music stand will take off a fair amount of brightness.
- The guitar comping rhythm is notated with chord symbols. The piano and bass are written.
- This is a wall to wall feature requiring a strong soloist.
- The ensemble writing beginning at m.92 is beautifully written.
- This chart never gets too loud, but maintains a lightness throughout.
12.) Elvin and the Hip Monks - Doug Beach/George Schutack Grade 1 Kendor
Doug Beach is a performer, composer, publisher, educator, arranger, trumpet player, and Grammy Award winner. Is the jazz director at Elmhurst College in Chicago. George Shutack is a keyboard player in the Chicago area. He has been associated as a writer with both Doug Beach Music and Kendor Music.
- A funky, boogaloo-styled blues chart.
- Written with just 4 interchangeable horn parts for bands with smaller instrumentation. This is also an opportunity to work soloing without all the hassle of learning a fully realized big band chart.
- The solo section, a C blues, is open. Backgrounds are provided, but this could also be an opportunity to make up backgrounds by ear using the C blues scale.
- There is an effective ensemble chorus at m.56.
13.) Swing State - Doug Beach/George Schutack Grade 1 Kendor
- Another chart for 4 horns, this time a medium Bb blues Basie-ish swinger.
- Solo section is open with bkgs provided.
- There is a 1 chorus shout.
- The melody returns harmonized at m.69.
- Effective chart for a small band.
14.) El Castor Loco - Andy Ballantyne Grade 3 Clovertone
Andy Ballantyne is a highly skilled and respected Toronto saxophone player. He plays with most of the top Toronto jazz orchestras and leads his own 11 piece Andy Ballantyne Large Ensemble
- A latin chart for stronger and more experienced groups.
- The independence required by the drummer is always a challenge.
- Rhythms are all notated.
- Sax soli at m.28
- Shifts into a boss nova-ish groove at m.44 and continues through the solo section
- Solo section is a bit long for younger or less experienced soloists. The solos can easily be shortened and divided up. the original latin feel returns in the latter half of the solo section
- Powerful shout section followed by a horn-drs exchange
15.) Friday Night Special - Christian Overton Grade 2 Clovertone
Trombonist Christian Overton performs with many Toronto ensembles including the nine-piece funk band King Sunshine, The Toronto Jazz Orchestra, and The Art of Jazz Orchestra. Christian is also the featured composer and musical director for The Composers Collective Big Band. On top of his playing he is the owner of Clovertone Music
- A medium up swinger for younger players. The trumpet range tops out at written B above the staff.
- The solo section is a 4 bar vamp.
16.) Oclupaca - Duke Ellington/Michael Mossman Grade 4 Hal Leonard
A New York based trumpet player who is is equally skilled as a composer and arranger. Mossman has a special affinity for latin jazz.
- This is a wonderful, and fun, re-invention of Duke’s classic composition from his Latin American Suite. Mossman adds very little new melodic material but instead re-harmonizes the original material and moves the various musical components around.
- The challenges are directed primarily at the drums, especially making the shift to and from the 12/8 groove.
- There are several typos. The most glaring is in the Alto 1 part in m.8-9, which should look like m.117-118. In m.16 trpts 3 and 4 are missing the anticipation (see AS2 and TS 1) and an accidental is missing in trpt 3 in m.43 - the second C should be C# (see AS2).
- Definitely for more experienced groups.
- Working on this chart it would be great to spend a little time playing the Ellington original which is available as part of the Essentially Ellington Series published by Alfred Music.
- Regarding the demo recording - I do feel that the tempo on the demo recording is a bit bright. I found that pulling the tempo back a little, about 10%, really helped it find a great groove and still maintain the wonderful intensity of the wring.
- This is an excellent arrangement.
- I performed this during the senior week of the 2013 UBC Summer Music Institute and, while it took quite a bit of work, the students really enjoyed playing it. Everyone had something challenging and fun to play.
17.) Fiesta del Tigre - Mike Story Grade 1 Belwin
- For very young bands. Written for 5 saxes, 6 brass. Playable by 2 altos, 1 tenor, 2 trpts and 1 trb.
- Slow majestic intro followed by a latin groove (bossa using the ride cym). This is a nod to the famous Malaguena
- An emphasis on the trumpet section.
- Written solo for trpt
- This one works well for the younger players and has a nice energetic punch
18.) Matador - Fred Stride Grade 4 Sierra
- Originally written for the UBC Summer Music Institute.chart.
- An even 8ths swaggering Spanish flavoured chart.
- There is a fair bit of independent part writing throughout, so players need to be on their toes.
- Solo section is for TS 1 or Guitar.
- The trumpet section is featured in soli.
- A short drum solo.
- The loud tuttis should be big and powerful. The band should “roar.”
- This piece enjoys a second life as a wind ensemble piece, Parade of the Matadors (the original title), which was recorded by PSWE (Trajectories) in 2005.
19.) Chili Pepper Christmas - Doug Beach/George Shutack Grade 3 Kendor
- A fun latin, mostly samba, Christmas medley of I Saw Three Ships, Angels We Have Heard On High and Jingle Bells.
- Solo section #1 is open (8 bars)
- Solo section #2 is also open - 32 bars
- Drum solo - 8 bars to trade 2s with horns (16 bars).
- Ensemble to the end.
20.) Ye Jazzy Gentlemen - Peter Blair Grade 1 Belwin
- A medium tempo, cool swinger for younger players of the very familiar Christmas carol.
- The melody is passed around for 2 choruses with an 8 bar interlude between.
- The interlude returns, modulates and is followed by more melody up a step.
- There is no solo section although one could be added. For example, instead of going on into m.35 go back to m.9 for a couple of solos then continue into m.35. You could also solo over a Cmin7-Dmin7/G vamp, although this could quickly become boring
- Note the swing phrasing on the parts does not actually follow the common practice of slurring to a downbeat (see trpts. m.4).
21.) Backrow Politics - Gordon Goodwin/Peter Blair Grade 2 Belwin
- A simplified version of Gordon Goodwin’s funky chart.
- As with the original this version features the trumpet section. Many of the rhythms in Goodwin’s original have been straightened out. However, if your students are familiar with the original it would not take much to return some of the original phrasing.
- Solo section is very long for young players. This should be an opportunity to have everyone take a solo.
- Due to the solo section and the trumpet melody throughout this is a real real fun workout for the trumpets.
22.) Told Ya So - Gordon Goodwin Grade 3 Belwin
- This is cool school music with a Miles Davis So What attitude. The bridge goes up a minor 3rd instead on a 1/2 step as with the the Davis tune. The tune also has an interlude.
- Solo section - The solo section is open with changes written for AS 1, TS 1, Bari, Trpt 3, Trb. 1. Piano or guitar could also solo. If a piano solo it would be good to omit many of the background figures. As with many of Goodwin’s tunes the solo section can be a little long for some soloists.
- The solo section is followed by some extensive and excellent ensemble writing.
- Excellent chart.
23.) Motor City - Roger Schmidli Grade 1 Brolga
Roger Schmindl resides in Melbourne, Australia where he is a professional trombone player, composer, conductor and music educator. He is currently Head of Brass and Bands at Scotch College, Melbourne where he directs the Senior Wind Symphony and the Scotch College Senior Stage Band.
- The title Motor City refers to music of Detroit and the styles associated with Motown records. Very simple riff based melodic ideas.
- Solo section - 14 - 16 bars (m.15-16 are a break). Solo indications and changes for Alto 1, Tenor 1, Trpt 1. Could also have a guitar solo.
- Playable with optional reduced or expanded instrumentations.
24.) A Moment Like This - Larry Neeck Grade 3 Barnhouse
In addition to composing, Mr. Neeck teaches instrumental music in the Webster (NY) Central School District. He directs concert bands, jazz ensembles, and is co-founder and director of the Willink Middle School Student/Parent Band.
- A very simple 1970’s pop flavoured ballad. The score is for alto sax 1 but the demo uses a flugel horn.
- Trumpets use straight mutes.
- Opportunity to work on dynamics. Ballads are often played at a single volume - soft. This chart has several big loud moments.
- No improvised solo section - the feature is written out.
25.) March Bopish - Mike Carubia Grade 3.5 Smart Chart/Barnhouse
Mike Carubia is an active trumpet player in New York. He currently teaches at Ward Melville H.S., East Setauket, New York.
- This chart has more than a passing reference to Benny Golson’s Blues March and some of the big band charts of Thad Jones. The conductor notes state the quarter note accompaniment of the melody is “pseudo corny melodic articulations.” For me this is a little dangerous and may encourage performers to play the chart as some type of cartoon music. Students would be very well served to check out Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers recording of Blues Walk or the Thad Jones recording of A That’s Freedom. These performances illustrate the fun, but serious, aspect of the music.
- Trumpets are split into 2 harmons and 2 cups. Using the optional/additional flute part on the initial melody brings it much closer to Thad Jones’ music
- Trombone 1 travels up to the high Ab. Solo section is open for any soloist. 16 bar choruses.
- A very nice sax soli followed by some nice sax/brass interplay a-la Thad Jones
- A good shout
- An excellent chart.
26.) Barbeque Sauce - Mike Carubia Grade 3.5 Smart Chart/Barnhouse
- This is a funk chart with blues infused melodic lines, with a slight nod to the funk charts of the great Thad Jones.
- Because of the 16th notes in the saxes and trumpets the chart looks harder than it is.
- The solo section, open for any soloist, is an 8 bar section of alternating F7 and Eb7 chords.
- Some nice ensemble writing after the solos
- Fully notated RS parts
27.) Cold Duck Time - Eddie Harris/Eric Morales Grade 3 Belwin
Eric Morales teaches and plays trumpet professionally in the New Orleans area, in addition to maintaining an active composing and conducting schedule.
- Fun rock-funk chart that begins with a “Birdland” beat (Open-closed HH with cross stick).
- A 16 bars solo section with space for AS 1 or Bari.
- Some nice stop time breaks
- Solo space later for guitar or trpt 2
- The final ensemble beginning at m.83 is a long haul, but very well written and quite exciting
- A possible printing error in trpts 1-2 in m.35 written G should probably be and Ab as trpts 3-4.
28.) Message from Westlake - Mike Kamuf Grade 3 Belwin
Mike Kamuf freelances as a commercial trumpet player in the Baltimore and Washington DC areas. He is currently the Director of Bands and Orchestras and Music Department Chairperson at John T. Baker Middle School in Damascus, MD.
- This medium up swinger is based on the changes to the classic Bernie’s Tune. Bernie’s Tune was a favourite in the 1950s particularly with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker. The voiced ensemble of trumpet, tenor, bari, trb and guitar is typical of the lighter jazz on the westcoast in the 1950s and early early 60s. On the bridge Kamuf uses 3 separate small groups.
- No hiding in this chart.
- Cup mutes for both trpts and trbs are important to the sound of the chart.
- Solo section - Trumpet is up first with a full chorus solo (32).Guitar also has an indication to solo at this point. A written solo for both trpt and guitar is provided, as it is in most charts for student bands. Tenor takes the next chorus.
- A solo trpt vs tenor exchange.
- Some very good powerful ensemble writing in places.
- There is a drum - hrn exchange towards the end.
- Excellent chart.