Big Band Arrangements

The instrumentation format tells the number of: [saxophones/reeds]-[trumpets]-[trombones]-[rhythm section instruments]-[male(M) or female(F) vocals]

Body And Soul – Somewhat difficult – $50

A funky, reharmonized imagining set in 15/8. The horn parts are very easy; the difficulty lies in giving the rhythm section and vocalist time to get comfortable with the unusual groove. The vocal part is in E-flat.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-4-M

Calusul – Extremely difficult – $50

This is my arrangement of the Romanian folk song by the same name. It is a significant soprano saxophone feature, and it is extremely polyrhythmically difficult. Top professional orchestras will have to rehearse this piece to figure it out. However, in my humble opinion I have never done a better job of creating exciting dramatic structure in a chart, so if you have a band that loves to tackle polyrhythms (and an excellent soprano player) this may work excellently for you. A recording of this is available here.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-4

Dogface Soldier Song – Somewhat difficult – $20

A quick, getting-right-to-the-point arrangement of the 3rd Infantry Division song.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-3/4

Hungarian Rhapsobebop – Very difficult – $50

Based on melodies from Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, this is a technically difficult up-tempo arrangement with a dramatic slow introduction similar to the original Liszt arrangement for orchestra. I featured alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, and trumpet in a unison bebop-like trio, with space built into the solo section for each of these instruments and piano/guitar if wanted. After the solos is a technically tricky area of trading lines between various sections within the big band, and the climax is physically fatiguing for the lead trumpet – not for range, just for extended long phrases at a loud dynamic.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-4

Kernel Bogie – Moderately difficult – $50

The famous march Colonel Bogey by British Lieutenant F. J. Ricketts provides the melodic framework for this piece, set to a New Orleans-style second-line march feel. I ended up attempting some Bill Holman imitation with this arrangement, so expect some interesting curveballs – mainly, I played with how phrases become offset from expectations. The climax can be a bit taxing for the brass, but it isn’t too nasty. I built in specific solos with unique aspects for guitar and trumpet. There is a piccolo part which will sound fantastic if you have someone who can play it, but that part will work fine if on flute instead.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-4

L-O-V-E – Somewhat difficult – $50

The Nat King Cole vocal, but re-orchestrated for a more standard big band. The two versions balance slightly different voicings between having 6 or 8 brass. 2nd trumpet has the trumpet solo and solo backing for the vocalist, in B-flat and B major.

Instrumentation: 5-3-3-4-M or 5-4-4-4-M

The Maple Leaf Forever – Somewhat easy – $50

Pianist Martin Labbe and I collaborated on this arrangement of Canada’s ‘unofficial’ anthem. It’s a fairly straight-forward piece with a rubato trumpet solo starting things off.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-4

Mr. Pinstripe Suit – Somewhat difficult – $50

A big band arrangement that closely resembles the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy recording. The ‘breakdown’ featuring different horn sections in the “shout” can be challenging.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-4

Never Gonna Let You Go  – Somewhat difficult – $50

This one is in the key of the original Sergio Mendez pop recording and retains most of the same form, for ease of vocalists’ learning. This includes all of the key changes the song goes through, so it can be a challenging read. Male and female vocals are transcribed in the piano part; note the male vocal range here is unusually high (if vocalists keep the original roles with male on top), topping out on a Db5. There is also a solo trumpet part which includes some changes and a written “high” solo in the climax that tops out on F6.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-3-M-F

O Sole Mio – Somewhat easy – $50

The classic tune set to a latin feel.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-3-M

Szazadosur Sej Haj – Very difficult – $50

This is a very unusual arrangement of a very simple Hungarian folk tune. The closest style definition would be jazz fusion, but I used several instruments in unconventional fashion. It is a jazz trumpet feature, although the drum set can arguably play very aggressively throughout the piece as well; the rhythmic foundation of most of the piece actually comes from the piano banging away rhythmically on a low G. This should be fairly easy to read through (once the rhythm section figures out the feel) until the ending section, which changes feel to alternating 7/4 and 8/4 measures of funk. A recording of this is available here.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-4

Tancuj Tancuj – Very difficult – $50

‘Tancuj Tancuj’ means literally ‘dance dance’ and is a very popular Slovakian folk tune. Set to a New Orleans second-line march feel, this arrangement includes moderate solo sections for several different instruments in the band, and is in fact modeled similarly to Maurice Ravel’s famous Bolero. I rate this ‘very difficult’ because the ending climax is very fatiguing for the trumpets, and requires a lead trumpet player with iron chops and good range. A recording of this is available here.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-4

Vendedor de Bananas – Somewhat easy – $50

A fun cha-cha. One tenor saxophone player plays flute exclusively and has melodic and solo material. 1st and 2nd trumpet both also have solo melodic material.

Instrumentation: 5-3-3-4

What A Wonderful World – Somewhat difficult – $50

The classic Louis Armstrong setting, closer to his small group version than the orchestra version. One of the alto saxohponists plays clarinet exclusively. The “shout” features the trombone section, with the trombone parts being pretty challenging. A strong lead trombone is required.

Instrumentation: 5-3-3-4-M

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