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Here I look at pieces at Grade 4 - 5 by three outstanding composer/arrangers.
Michael Philip Mossman
Grade 4 GMT - Greenwich Mean Time (Swing) 4.22
Composed in a relaxed swing style, this catchy tune is built up in layers starting with the trombones. Saxes are added followed by the trumpets, and finally the full ensemble gets in on the fun. There are short but flashy feature spots for each section followed by an interlude leading to the open solo section. All of this is beautifully set using an interaction between a 2-beat feel and straight ahead swing.
Grade 4 Mofongo De Mama (Mambo) 4.00+
“Mofongo” is a popular Puerto Rican menu item. Set in a moderate mambo style, this catchy tune cruises along with feature spots for the brass and alto saxes. Solo space is provided for any combination of alto, tenor or trumpet, and a short montuno section sets up the sizzling full ensemble chorus.
There are plenty of other charts in our Repertoire List to explore by this talented arranger, including one of my personal favourites, his Hip-Hop Fusion arrangement of Marcus Miller’s Tutu (Grade 4), written for Miles Davis.
A brilliant composer and arranger, as well as running his own Big Band (check them out on YouTube), Alan’s charts are well worth considering.
Grade 4 Jive Samba (Samba) 5.34
Made famous by brother Cannonball, Nat Adderley’s composition is a perfect groove tune (138 BPM) with a bridge. In Alan’s arrangement, exhilarating twists and turns make this chart a delight to play. Solo space is provided for all horns, and the lead trumpet range is to written C above the staff.
Grade 4 Midnight Voyage (Medium Swing) 4:27
Here is an outstanding tenor sax feature chart that was composed by pianist Joey Calderazzo, recorded by the late, great Michael Brecker and arranged here by Alan. A haunting medium swing groove, tenor sax has the melody and the solo space, and lead trumpet range is to written high C.
Grade 5 The Beat Goes On (Shuffle) 5:40
It's that tune by Sonny Bono, from Sonny and Cher fame! With a driving shuffle feel, this contemporary and hip treatment of this classic pop/rock tune let's you know you are in for a treat from the first note. The features include written solo trombone at the top, great lower voice writing, and solo space for tenor, trumpet and guitar if desired. The lead trumpet range goes to written high D. This is an appealing, powerful and fun-to-play chart.
Once again, refer to our Repertoire List for other great charts by this talented arranger, including one that I frequently programmed, his Funk Shuffle original Two Seconds To Midnight. (Grade 4), and the spellbinding ‘El Abrazo’ (Grade 4).
Another composer/arranger who has been providing stand-out charts for many years.
Grade 4 The Duke (Afro-Cuban/Swing) 3.31
This jazz standard composed by Dave Brubeck came to prominence on the landmark 1957 Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaboration Miles Ahead. Mike Tomaro's arrangement takes the composition in a somewhat different direction with a fully-notated Afro-Cuban groove. Solos are included for alto sax and trumpet.
Grade 4.5 Just Before The Dawn (ECM Groove) 7:20
The straight 8th groove and relaxed tempo are in the vein of the great recordings from the ECM record label. Both great ensemble writing and ample solo space for piano and tenor saxophone are included. A really cool chart, with the usual Kendor backing tracks available for soloists to rehearse with.
Grade 5 Palladium (Funk/Samba) 6:00
Recorded in 1977 on the album Heavy Weather, 'Palladium' is a jazz fusion staple from the ground-breaking group Weather Report. Wayne Shorter's dynamic composition is orchestrated here for full jazz ensemble with some added touches from master arranger Mike Tomaro. The open solo section allows anyone to be featured.
Yet again, refer to our Repertoire List for other great charts at all levels by this talented arranger, including one that I frequently programmed, his delightful Latin Ballad original Secret Smiles. (Grade 3).