Repertoire Spotlight on Jazz for Jazz Appreciation Month

Repertoire Spotlight on Jazz Band for Jazz Appreciation Month

This month we added 25 new ensemble titles to the SmartMusic Repertoire Library. Included are new pieces for choir, concert band, string orchestra, and seven pieces for jazz band. View the complete list here.  

As part of our celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month we’ll focus on one of those pieces, Vince Gassi’s arrangement of Louis Prima’s classic Sing, Sing, Sing, which was immortalized by Benny Goodman’s 1938 Carnegie Hall performance. Vince’s ingenious arrangement makes this crowd-pleasing music accessible for a level 1 group, with easy brass ranges and written drum solo.

Press the play button below to hear the arrangement. You can also preview the score here.

Below Vince shares tips on performing the piece with your students.



Performance Notes from Arranger Vince Gassi

Energy is the name of the game on this chart. The tempo can be adjusted according to the skills of the ensemble. Don’t hesitate rehearsing the chart slower, then moving the tempo up as the group gains confidence.

The whole ensemble contributes to the chart, of course, but the drummer is really the key. First, check out the demo recording of this chart above and then check out the original (legendary) version by Benny Goodman with Gene Krupa on drums. I suggest spending some time with your drummer to make sure he or she is locked into the tempo, the style, and is generally in control and confident. Practicing with a metronome is essential! This goes for everyone, but drummer and bass player especially.

Saxes and trombones should be solid at measure 17. As far as dynamics are concerned, it’s pretty much f all the way through; however, there are a few opportunities (measure 60 and onward) to work on dynamic shading. Make as much dynamic difference as you can at places like measure 119. The whole ensemble should be strong to the end. Your students should be listening for balance and blend within their section and throughout the band.

The rhythm section parts are notated, but the guitar part has a lot of slashes to indicate comping. Ask the guitarist to use medium thickness picks which will give the guitar sound a very bright, acoustic quality, and to hold the pick loosely between the thumb and index finger. Strum straight quarter notes, trying to cut off (mute) the sound of the chord right after striking the strings. Strum from the elbow, giving a bright, swinging sound that propels the rhythm section forward.

Additional Material for Jazz Appreciation Month

We’ve also published a free ebook to assist Big Band directors, jazz trombone and drumming articles that are also included in the ebook, and tips to get more out of your jazz band rehearsal.

Of course, April isn’t over yet. Stay tuned for more jazz-specific content all month.

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