Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jazz Arranging

This is my second day of blogging about my current big band arranging project; it's a piece entitled "Dig In Buddy" by Calgary-based drummer, Tyler Hornby.  After completing yesterday's list of observations and ideas, I sat down at the piano to do some experimenting and exploring.


The first item on my list was reinforcing the Art Blakey-esque quality of the piece, if possible.  The question soon became "How?"  I experimented with 3-horn "crunch" voicings (for a lack of a better label), that I have seen in many of the Jazz Messenger charts I have transcribed over the years.  These voicings typically have a major third and a minor second below the melody. Often they are used over a pedal point.  I applied these to Tyler's progression and came up with a little vamp that could be used within the intro, to underpin the melody, and as a background figure behind soloists.

Next, I experimented with the expansion of the hip rhythmic idea in the final measure of the piece.  I reharmonized it a few ways to create an expanded sound-off which will lead into a solo break of sorts.

Both of these ideas are demonstrated in the video above.

Today my main goal was to map out a formal plan.  This may change, but here is what I sketched:
  •  Introduction:  8 measures.  Vamp.  Trombones + rhythm. Maybe unison sax lines over top.  End w/ lick from m.16, either in its original form or w/ rhythmic expansion, played by full brass.
  •  Melody (1st 8): vamp continues underneath.  Melody presented by trpt and tenor, like original.  M. 8, entire brass section plays punctuation figure.  Spill off on Cmi.
  • return of 8 measure vamp.  [I'm not ready to move on yet.]
  • Melody (1st 8) again.  Full brass punctuations at measures 4 and 8, using his melodies.
  • 2nd 8: swing release (walking).  Big.  Maybe change orchestration on beat 3 of measure 12.
  • Full ensemble shout/rhythmic hits encasing a drum solo [it's his tune after all!].  This will serve to extend the intensity generated in m. 16.  I'll keep it big and exciting.  16 measures, ending w/ lick from m. 16.
  • Restatement of head, in a different way.  Voice it.  Alter it rhythmically slightly (either melody or phrase ending punctuations)
  • "Extended sound-off" (from video): Gb13, Eb13, D7, Db7, G7, break.  Sax section "fills" over extended harmonies.  Sax section takes 4 measure solo break.
  • Saxophone soli.  2 choruses.  During the 2nd chorus the brass backgrounds gain prominence, build and gradually take over.  Incorporate last 2 measures of melody.
  •  Full ensemble continues well into the first chorus of a trumpet solo, keeping the intensity up initially.  3 chorues.  2nd chorus, minimal backgrounds.  3rd chorus, intro vamp by tbns, on first half.
  • Lead into a fire-y tenor sax solo, propelled by quirky low register 5ths, alternating w/ 4ths structures.  Looped vamp?  Perhaps a modulation here would "give it a lift".
  • Rhythmically expand the tune's melody, leaving large spaces for drum fills.  Keep it quirky.  Fairly big at points.  Some lines in contrary motion.  End the piece with a different vibe from where it began.  Arrive somewhere new, rather than return home.

Ok... so there we have it.  It will be interesting to see to what degree I end up deviating from this plan.  For now, I am simply pleased to have a plan in place.  Now... to roll up my sleeves, sharpen my pencils and get to work!!!



2 comments:

  1. Great post--cassettes are the way to go! It' always great to see some real content. Keep up the good work, I'll link to you.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement Scott. I've just started going through your blog posts. Very impressive! I will look forward to reading your blog in more depth in the weeks to come. All the best, Earl

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