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Big Band Charts

The instrumentation format tells the number of: [saxophones/reeds]-[trumpets]-[trombones]-[rhythm section instruments]

Bang Spot – Original composition – Somewhat difficult – $50

Bang Spot is a tenor saxophone feature of an exciting up-tempo blues. I modelled this chart after stylistic elements of the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra. Minus the instrument throwing, of course. This should be playable by any college-level big band.

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

Calusul – Arrangement – 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

The Grinning King – Original composition – Very difficult – $50

I wrote this for Jim Finlayson, who has unfortunately since passed away, as a trombone solo feature. It is a driving swing shuffle, and will mostly read through fairly easily; but it has a couple of technical passages that bump the difficulty up to ‘very.’ The trombone soloist will be playing for a fairly long time, and the climax occurs during a shout capped by a screaming trumpet, Maynard-style.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-4

Hungarian Rhapsobebop – Arrangement – 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 – Arrangement – 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

The Maple Leaf Forever – Arrangement – 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

Small Smile – Original composition – Very difficult – $50

I originally composed this to be a part of my Master’s Final Recital back when I was in graduate school, and have since altered it a bit. It is an advanced trombone and soprano saxophone feature, with extended duets between the two soloists and a large solo section. Like many of my arrangements, this is taxing for the brass, especially the lead trumpet. This piece has two F horn parts as well as the typical big band setup.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-4 plus 2 F horns

Szazadosur Sej Haj – Arrangement – 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 – Arrangement – 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

Whisper Dance – Original composition – Very easy – $50

Whisper Dance is a melodically catchy bossa nova arranged to be playable by a typical high-school big band. The instrument ranges are very moderate, and comping figures in the rhythm section are spelled out for students who do not know how to construct their own comping figures, including tablature in the guitar part. There is a typical stop-time percussion solo, followed by an instrumental solo section, and for ease of introduction into that aspect of playing, it is a modal vamp. Unlike many other pieces for this ability level, I included interesting harmonic color in the melody which should make this more rewarding for the students to play through, especially students on the inner parts which will have the interesting ‘color’ notes. The students at the 2012 Great Basin Jazz Camp performed this piece here.

Instrumentation: 5-4-4-4


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