Tag Archives: jazz arranging

12/8/18 – Harmonic Superpowers and Guest Jeff Babko

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8TH, 2018 – 10am – 12:30pm

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Hone your harmonic superpowers while hanging with your cool LA colleagues and ingesting large quantities of caffeine!

On Saturday the 8th we’ll start off by listening to and giving feedback on demo recordings and scores that were sent in to the ASA. Then I want to spend some time talking about chord substitutions and linear jazz harmony, with a particular focus on jazz piano voicing techniques and keyboard harmony.  I’ll have examples from the masters going back to the 1920’s.

 

The first half will have been a fitting preparation for the second half of the class, as I will then introduce one of my favorite musicians, L.A. keyboardist, fellow caffeine lover, and overall cool guy Jeff Babko. Jeff will talk about his multi-faceted career as a live and studio performer, and give us some insights into how he approaches his art in today’s musical environment. This is one not to miss. So lock and load people, let’s get to it!

About Jeff Babko:

Pianist/keyboardist Jeff Babko is a native of Southern California, and has remained on the west coast throughout his career. Babko constantly balances many musical and professional hats, as an in-demand recording musician and touring keyboardist.

After graduating from the University of Miami’s distinguished Frost School Of Music, Babko began working with international superstar Julio Iglesias on a series of worldwide tours. He also appeared in Iglesias’ “Tango” longform video.

After leaving Iglesias, Babko began regularly touring Asia and Europe super-drummer Simon Phillips. Soon after, he joined guitarist Robben Ford’s band, and later extensively toured and recorded with Larry Carlton. With Carlton, Babko performed for the King and royal family of Thailand in Bangkok’s royal palace. Listeners can enjoy Babko’s recorded work with Ford and Carlton on their joint effort, Live In Tokyo, as well as on some of their individual recordings (see “other people’s rekkids” section). Babko also backed Carlton with Japanese B’z guitar superstar Tak Matsumoto on their Grammy award winning recording.

Other tours included Europe with the L.A. supergroup TOTO in 2000 (including the “Live In Sofia” television special), and also with Grammy award winner Shelby Lynne.

Television work began with Martin Short’s syndicated talk show in 1999/2000, and later on the Wayne Brady daytime show. For the past 15+ years, most significantly, Babko has been the musical arranger, a composer, and house band member on ABC TV’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live”. He’s backed up countless rock, pop and jazz artists on the show, and has produced much of the music for its comedy segments (including co-writing “I’m F**king Ben Affleck”).

Always keeping one foot dipped in comedy territory, Babko has been the touring musical director and accompanist for Martin Short since 2002, and also performs with Mr. Short & Steve Martin, also joined by the Grammy award winning bluegrass group Steep Canyon Rangers. Look for their Netlfix special in 2018!

In 2010, Babko recorded (“100 Miles From Memphis”) and toured with Sheryl Crow. The “100 Miles” band, dubbed “The Thieves”, recorded a live set from the Pantages Theatre, which has been a televised mainstay since its release. Another ongoing touring and recording situation has been with James Taylor, and Babko can be heard on Taylor’s “Covers” record, including its single, “It’s Growing”. Babko joined Taylor on the 2017 stadium tour with Bonnie Raitt, performing at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, among other legendary ballparks.

Other recent recording highlights include Jason Mraz’ “Love Is A Four Letter Word” and Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange”, Nathan East’s 2 solo albums, as well as Smokey Robinson’s “Smokey & Friends” record of duets, produced by Randy Jackson for Verve Records. You also have heard Babko on recordings from Alanis Morrisette, Maná, Willie Nelson, Tim McGraw, Jennifer Nettles, The Madden Brothers, and others.

Babko has four solo albums out under his own name, including 2012’s critically acclaimed “Crux”for Tonequake Records, featuring Mark Isham, Tim Lefebvre and Matt Chamberlain. His 2007 release “Mondo Trio” w/ Jeff Coffin and Vinnie Colaiuta is considered a classic “drum fusion” record. The collective supergroup “Band Of Other Brothers” with Will Lee, Dave Matthews Band’s Jeff Coffin, Nir Felder and Steely Dan’s Keith Carlock was a critical favorite and the band headlined the Iridium in NYC in 2017.

Babko can be seen on Steve Martin & Martin Short’s Netflix special, released in May 2018. He also runs his own studio, TudorTones, with his wife, studio violinist Songa Lee. Also, Jeff hosted a podcast from TudorTones featuring fellow keyboard players called “The Caffeinated Keyboardist.” (http://caffeinatedkeyboardist.podomatic.com).

10/20/18 – Voicing Boot Camp and Drummer Bernie Dresel

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20TH 2018 – 10am – 12:30pm

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Blues for Pablo analysisSaturday the 20th is going to be a jam-packed class. I want to spend an hour talking about how to voice a big band horn session in to get that that classic, dynamic, crisp and swinging ensemble sound. We’ll talk about creating full ensemble “shout” tutti horn voicings, layering, voice doubling, instrument and section ranges, cross-doubling, and inner unisons. We’ll analyze examples from Duke Ellington and Thad Jones, and I’ll do a detailed analysis of a new chart of mine from Bernie’s record.

 

After a short break, I’ll being up band leader and drummer extraordinaire Bernie Dresel. The 16-piece BBB Featuring Bernie Dresel has just released their second record, Bern Bern Bern – seventy-two minutes of high-octane big band music featuring music by an LA’s finest composers and arrangers. Bernie will be discussing big band drum chart writing techniques, as well as his newer forward thinking recording production ideas applied to the big band.

So lock and load people, let’s get to it!

About Bernie Dresel:

Bernie Dresel has been one of the busiest studio and live musicians in the world as both a drummer and percussionist since moving to Los Angeles in 1983 after graduating from the prestigious Eastman School of Music. On film and tv you’ve heard Bernie most recently on Incredibles 2, Zootopia, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Family Guy, and The Simpsons. He has traveled the world, occupying the coveted drum chair for Grammy Award-winning Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band since its inception in 1999 until 2015. And also, for an overlapping 15 years (1992 to 2006), he was the drummer for the multi-Grammy Award-winning Brian Setzer Orchestra, selling close to 4 million records. Modern Drummer magazine’s readers’ poll named Bernie “Best Big Band Drummer” and Drum! Magazine has put him on their list of “53 Drummers Who Made a Difference in the ’90s” as well as honoring him with a Drummie® for Best Big Band Drummer.

And now Bernie has had his own big band for 4 years called The BBB Featuring Bernie Dresel, which is without question one of the world’s most exciting, most innovative and original hard-swinging large jazz ensembles ever. Their just released 2nd album, Bern Bern Bern (available now on CD and Pure Audio Blu-Ray), provides potent testimony to the sheer exhilaration of big band jazz….a combination of intense swing, fiery soloing, exciting arrangements, and tight ensemble playing that is showcased within a unique production palette, all the time being powered by Bernie Dresel’s extraordinary drumming talents. Bernie will be discussing big band drum chart writing techniques, as well as his newer forward thinking recording production ideas applied to the big band.

More information about Bernie, the album Bern Bern Bern, and this great big band can be found at www.TheBBBFeaturingBernieDresel.com
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see bluedogmusic.com and academyofscoringarts.org for more info

6/30/18 – Birth of the Cool and Duke with Guest Paul Peress

On Saturday, June 30th at 10am we’ll start delving into Miles Davis’ revolutionary “Birth of the Cool”.  This influential and enduring work has it all: inspired arranging, cool vibe, great playing – a multi-session group effort featuring compositions and arrangements by Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Miles, John Carisi and John Lewis. This nonet project from the late 1940’s and early 50’s is the culmination of hours of hanging out and experimenting, and is a great example of intricate, intimate and soulful small ensemble writing. We will study “Jeru” by Gerry Mulligan using scores and parts.

Then after a short break I’ll bring up my good friend and NYC homeboy drummer, composer and band-leader Paul Peress. Paul comes from an exceptionally musical family, his late father Maurice was a well-known conductor, composer, educator, and friend of Duke Ellington. Paul will discuss his own meeting Duke Ellington on several occasions, and his work with his father Ellington’s “Black Brown and Beige” with his father. He’ll also touch on work we did together in NY, where I arranged some of Paul’s music, and various music concepts important to him as a drummer/composer. For summer reading, check out how Maurice traces the roots of the intersection of jazz and classical music from the mid 19th century on, and recounts much of his multi-faceted career in his book “Dvorak to Duke Ellington”. Highly recommended.

Free coffee and lots of hang time, done by 12:30. See you there!

 

About Paul Peress:

“A MUST SEE ARTIST AND MASTER DRUMMER” – The Los Angeles Times

Paul Peress is a Grammy nominated drummer, bandleader, producer, and songwriter, newly based out of Los Angeles. He has worked as music director/drummer with Chaka Khan, Brenda Russell, Moby, The B-52’s, Mary Wilson, Deniece Williams, Regina Belle, Tom Scott, Bobby Kimball, Stephen Bishop, Jeff Golub… His band, The Paul Peress Project, has performed in over 20 countries, including appearances at The Heineken Jazz Festival, Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, South Africa’s Joy of Jazz Festival, BET’s Jazz St. Lucia…

11/11/16 – Thad, Duke, and some College Chords

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-12-30-25-pmOn Friday we will dive back into large ensemble voicing, first by revisiting “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue” by Duke Ellington. Duke’s work in the mid 1930’s predicted and influenced the “modern” big band arrangers.

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Then…it’s Thad, Thad and More Thad (Jones, that is)…this time with an emphasis on jazz theory and harmony. His style fulfillment of the Old Testament Swing Era prophecy. This new sound is rich with thick harmony and intense harmonic movement…and impeccable voicing and balancing technique. We’re going to see lots of “college chords” and some challenging jazz theory – we will refer to examples from “Inside the Score” by Rayburn Wright.
Cover charge: $12 includes continental breakfast
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Vitello’s E-Spot Lounge – 4349 Tujunga Ave Studio City, CA 91604
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6/24/16 – Clear and Transparent Voicing Technique (that still grooves!)

On the 24th we’ll delve in to Ellington’s “Such Sweet Thunder”. This piece is a great example of the use of riffs, space, harmony, layering, groove, and economical jazz writing. There’s so much to say, I bet it takes an hour at least. Then we will begin a detailed study of large ensemble voicing, the way it’s officially “taught” in the textbooks…using as reference excerpts from Ray Wright’s “Inside the Score” and Don Sebesky’s “Contemporary Arranger”. We’ll discuss the different ways to stack and meld big band horns, particularly in the antiphonal style of Sammy Nestico, and if we have time, we will begin the melded, cross-doubled style of Thad Jones. This will be a great way to get us off the computer, away from the MIDI/sample grind, and address true, clear, powerful and artistic jazz orchestration. Please bring analog staff paper and writing implements, there will be handouts. Be there or be square!  –Scott

Last class was “Ko-Ko” and “Moten Swing”, we talked about form, voicing, and particularly orchestrating for a smaller horn section. Good stuff!

3/25/16: From “Ko-Ko” to KC

On March 25th we will start an in-depth analysis of the iconic “Ko-Ko” by Duke Ellington, using as a reference an excellent transcription by David Berger. This is another great Ellington piece from 1940 that looks both to the past and to the future, with great soloists, and featuring the young bassist Jimmy Blanton. We will hear Duke’s “jungle period” roots mixed with a New Orleans and Swing vibe, and we’ll see how he squeezes everything into a compact and relatively short recording–accomplished as always with profoundly modern orchestration techniques.

I also want to take a look at “Moten Swing” by Bennie Moten–a little change of pace–we’ll talk about riffs and Kansas City swing, but also talk about horn voicings and mixed doubling for a smaller ensemble. If we have time (we ran out last time) we’ll listen to some more “modern” (late 50’s, early 60’s) music by Bob Brookmeyer and maybe even some free jazz from Sun Ra. That’s a lot of material, so put on your thinking caps and sharpen your pencils. See you there!