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MSBOA / Jazz Commission Project

Director’s First Thoughts

Max Colley Jr., Director

When Dave Knox ( and Paul Stanifer(MSBOA) first contacted me about this project to commission a jazz piece for my high school jazz ensemble, I was very excited about how this could all work out. It's wonderful to be able to be in on the ground floor with this composition and this project. It is hoped that through this process other directors as well as myself can see this piece come to life from it's infant stages, then through our first rehearsals of it, and finally to it's premiere performance at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival.

In my conversation with Vince we discussed what the grade level should be. We also discussed the strenghths and weaknesses of my band and because this piece is going to be performed by my band and the All-State band I thought that it would be good to have an open solo section with various background parts. This way the piece would be more accommodating for both groups. Normally there are woodwind backgrounds for a brass soloist and brass backgrounds for a woodwind soloist. We also talked about whether or not the rhythm section parts would be written out or just use chord changes. Vince indicated that he would write out the parts even though I have a strong bassist and drummer.

Vince indicated as well that he had a jazz waltz in mind and I thought that was fine. I hadn't planned that particular style for any of my festival performances as of yet, so that would be a good addition for audiences to listen to at our performances and good for my students to dig into that particular style. We also talked about a timetable that worked for both of us, which allowed him time to complete the composition and time for my band to work it up. I was very pleased with his attitude and we both seemed genuinely content with the conversation and how things were going to play out.

Max Colley Jr., Teacher, Instrumental Music
Northview Public Schools
Grand Rapids, MI

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