Tag Archives: jazz arranging

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!