Author Archives: Ellington Study Group

Class Materials 5/5/18

Class Materials 5/5/18

“Black Brown and Beige” Orchestral Suite arranged by Maurice Peress

“Spanish Key” Miles Davis – SH Transc-Arr


“A LOVE SUPREME” sketch (is this authentic?):

5/5/18 – Concert Jazz and Extended Form – and Mervyn Magic

Ellington’s auspicious Carnegie Hall debut in 1943 gave us the masterpiece “Black, Brown and Beige”, arguably the first long form, extended “legit” concert jazz work. Contemporary critics and aficionados were skeptical that Duke, or anyone for that matter, could pull off such a feat.  Seriously, given that jazz is an improvised art form, how it be “composed” enough for the deadly serious concert stage? How can an a jazz artist sustain interest and craft a meaningful jazz work longer than the a few sides of a 78 rpm record? In the last class we spent some time on the first movement, of “Black, Brown and Beige” using a few contrasting recordings. We’ll continue on from where we left off.

A few decades later with Miles’ “Bitches Brew”, the line between written and improvised sound had grown opaque and the process multi-dimensional. Plus there remained no doubt that even the freest sounding jazz can be composed and legit. Concepts like exploiting musicians’ individuality, evolved common practice techniques, free improvisation, electronics, rock and R n B influences,  and modern production all coalesced for Miles and the “Bitches Brew” band. Last month we took a hard look at “Pharaoh’s Dance”, I want to continue on and look at the rest of the record. Also I’ve been waiting to introduce Sun Ra to the group, maybe now’s the time? We also might check out a bit of Trane’s “A Love Supreme”.

After a short break I’ll introduce our guest speaker,  five-time Grammy Award winner Mervyn Warren, a highly accomplished film and television composer, record producer, arranger, songwriter, lyricist, pianist, and vocalist. Mervyn is equally adept at many styles, his work spans the genres from film score, pop, R&B, jazz, orchestral, classical, vocal, country, and more. His filmography includes The Wedding Planner, A Walk To Remember, The Preacher’s Wife, and A Raisin In The Sun. His artist roster includes Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Queen Latifah, Boyz II Men, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Rascal Flatts, Chicago, Michael Bublé, Al Jarreau, & many more. 

Mervyn will be joining us to shine the light on the recently completed project by legendary jazz vocal group The Manhattan Transfer. It’s been almost a decade since their last studio album (2009’s The Chick Corea Songbook), and their new 2018 album, The Junction, sets the group on a new course with hybrid elements of jazz, swing, hip hop, and more. We’ll be playing tracks from the new album and talking to Mervyn about his arranging, the recording process, and more.

 

Class Materials – 3/24/18

DIM and CRESC- Improv as Comp – Katherine Williams

VCFA-Ellington-Lecture-Andy-Jaffe-Feb-2017-5

Hey! Great news…er…”Black Brown and Beige” full score of the full suite as performed in 1943 is now available on ejazzlines.comFOR $500 – that’s right, the PDF score (and parts) is $500 – no study score is offered. Oh well.

 

 

PHAROAH’S DANCE:

Pharaoh’s Dance – ZAWINUL CHART FROM THE INTERNET

PHAROAH’S DANCE – SH ARRANGEMENT SKETCH SCORE

Link to “Black Brown and Beige” arranged by Maurice Peress 1970, download is unavailable:

 

Pharaoh’s Dance – Zawinul’s original chart (? from the interwebs – authenticity is not established)

Pharaoh’s Dance transcription/sketch by Scott Healy

“A LOVE SUPREME” sketch (is this authentic?):

3/24/18 – THREE GREAT WORKS, GRANT GEISSMAN

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SATURDAY, MARCH 24TH, 2018 – 10am – 12:30pm

On March 24th I want to start talking about a composer’s intent – how a writer’s vision is carried forward and realized. This will be the first in more than a few installments of this broad topic – we’re doing more than analyzing the music, we’ll be trying to “decode” it. Even improvised “free” jazz can have strict form and recognizable intent.

We’ll look at three contrasting works: “Black, Brown and Beige” by Duke Ellington, “Pharaoh’s Dance” by Joe Zawinul from Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, and “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane. Despite their obvious stylistic differences, these three works share an evolved sense of “composed” performance. Duke, Miles and Coltrane were composers and instrumentalists. They all played like writers and wrote like players. How does being a player affect one’s intent in composing? Let’s see if we can decode some of these great recordings’ magic.

The premiere 1943 Carnegie Hall Concert of “Black, Brown and Beige” was just the beginning. The piece has been chopped up, reworked, rerecorded and orchestrated, both by Duke himself and others. We’ll check out the original, and compare it to an interesting and evocative symphonic treatment of the work by the late conductor Maurice Peress with the Buffalo Phil. We’ll hear how both versions really lean on the players to make the magic happen – the score is just a point of departure.

Miles was playing and composing, calling the shots, and even arranging and “recomposing” others’ original tunes when he recorded the seminal Bitches Brew in 1968. A lot of it sounds like free blowing, but there is definite structure and intent.

Trane’s 1965 masterpiece “A Love Supreme”, well, what can I say…

 

 

Then after a short break I’ll bring to the stage our guest speaker, guitar virtuoso and Emmy-nominated composer Mr. Grant Geissman. Grant has had a long and prolific career, and we’re going to hear all about it. Let’s try and decode him while we’re at it!

 

You’re definitely going to get your money’s worth on Saturday. And there will be free food and … oh yes, coffee. See you there. Scott

Cover charge: $15 includes continental breakfast

Purchase tickets in advance on Eventbright or at the door.
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Vitello’s E-Spot Lounge – 4349 Tujunga Ave Studio City, CA 91604

About Grant Geissman

Grant Geissman

Grant Geissman is a guitarist and composer with fourteen albums released under his own name, the latest being the jazz trilogy of Say That!, Cool Man Cool, and BOP! BANG! BOOM!, for which he wrote and arranged all of the songs (Futurism Records). Geissman also co-wrote the music for all twelve seasons of the hit CBS-TV series Two and a Half Men and all six seasons of Mike & Molly. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2004 for co-writing the Two and a Half Men theme (“Men, men, men, men, manly men”). His other TV credits include playing the Django Reinhart-style acoustic guitar solo on the theme of the hit sitcom Monk.

Geissman recorded the now-iconic electric guitar solo on Chuck Mangione’s 1978 mega-hit “Feels So Good.” Over the years, the versatile guitarist has recorded with such artists as Burt Bacharach, Inara George, Joanna Newsom, Lorraine Feather, Julio Iglesias, Quincy Jones, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, David Benoit, Van Dyke Parks, and Ringo Starr.

Ellington Study Group

8/25/17 Quantum Meter and Tim Davies

On the 25th I’ll open up the topic of meter and time in jazz composition. We’ll talk about how a composer can engage meter, ways to work within a grid of time, or to work expressively against it. We’ll get into techniques like plastic meter, hemiola and cross-rhythms, tuplets and more. I’ve got musical examples cued up from all eras of large ensemble jazz…perhaps time and meter in jazz music is a bit like quantum physics…flexible, dependent upon your point of view…there are a lot of ways we can go with this, let’s see where it takes us!

Then after a short break I’ll bring to the stage the world-renowned composer, orchestrator, educator and conductor Tim Davies. I know Tim as a prolific and inspiring jazz composer and educator, but he also has done tremendous work in the studio and on the stage, including hundreds of credits in TV, film, symphonic music, as well as arranging for pop artists. And BTW, he’s a great drummer. We will have scores and musical examples posted online for viewing in class, as well as full projection and sound system. Check out Tim’s full bio below, and I’ll see you there! Scott

TICKETS AVAILABLE AT EVENTBRITE AND AT THE DOOR

Tim Davies is one of the busiest conductors and orchestrators in Hollywood. His film and TV credits include La La Land, Trolls, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Minions, Ant-Man, Empire, CHiPs and Frozen. He is the most prolific orchestrator and conductor in the world of video games having worked on the God of War,Infamous and Batman: Arkham series.

Davies is an active arranger as well. Recent highlights include arranging and playing drums for the twentieth anniversary concert of NAS’ Illmatic and being lead arranger for Kendrick Lamar’s performance of To Pimp a Butterfly, both featuring the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. He has arranged for albums by chart-topping artists Amy Winehouse, Akon, Miguel, Cee Lo Green and for orchestras all over the world from the Los Angeles Philharmonic to the Metropol Orkest in the Netherlands. He plays drums and writes for his own group, the 18-piece Tim Davies Big Band, and has received two Grammy nominations for Best Instrumental Composition, in 2010 and 2016.

Recently Davies has been in demand as a composer, having worked with two-time Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla on the score to the Fox animated film The Book of Life. This was also the beginning of a partnership with producer/director Guillermo del Toro, which led to writing additional music for Crimson Peak and now creating the Annie-nominated score for his new TV show, Trollhunters, produced by Dreamworks Animation for Netflix.

In 2013 he launched his orchestration blog www.debreved.com, which has since become an important resource for composers and orchestrators all over the world. Daviesis on the board of Education Through Music Los Angeles, helping provide music education for underprivileged children.