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V.I.P. Shortcuts for Selecting Jazz Band Charts
by John Kuzmich, Jr.

July, 2011

Ever get confused about purchasing jazz band music for your music program that best meets the needs of your ensembles? Although there are six levels of difficulty level to consider first, knowing the range requirements for each brass instrument family, improvisation demands, rhythm section techniques, instrumentation and other features are equally as quite important. Most publishers offer demo recordings or audio files on their web sites, and finding them can be a challenge. But this process represents only the beginning of the assessment process or “the tip of the iceberg!”

For your assistance, I will be reviewing the different series of charts from quality music publishers not just by their individual charts but more importantly, by first reviewing the differences and similarities in their different jazz band series to help clarify how each series is unique and perhaps how the best new releases match up with the different series of other publishers available in the market. Once you have narrowed your search to specific series among multiple publishers, the assessment process gets easier and more productive as you compare “Apples” to “Apples.”

To begin this selection adventure, below are thirteen criteria used to help customize your choices of what to look for when selecting jazz band charts for your ensembles.

1. Differences with instrumentation between different series. Standard instrumentation plus optional parts for flute, clarinet, french horn, tuba, vibraphone, etc.
2. Optional instrumentation when standard instrumentation can't be met for playable schemes
3. Ensemble difficulty levels (1 through 6)
4. Improvisation section difficulty (easy, intermediate and advanced)
5. Prominent composers/arrangers in each series
6. Sample best charts listed along with an Internet link if available for listing.
7. Price per chart,
8. Number of charts in each series,
9. Recordings available (demo or full or none): Any links to the Hal Leonard workshop for the select thumb print.
10. Sample written solos and/or recorded solos
11. Original compositions or primarily arrangements.
12. Doubling requirements (flute, clarinet, fluegel horn, tuba, strings, etc.)
13. Rehearsal tips when offered can be important in providing rehearsal techniques.

HAL LEONARD JAZZ ENSEMBLE SERIES SUMMARY

The world’s largest publisher is Hal Leonard. URL is http://www.halleonard.com/ It is one of the prominent music publishers with well over 100,000 titles for all venues: guitar, vocal, band, piano and strings. Below is an analysis of each of their different jazz band series. For each series, there is a link that takes you directly to the Hal Leonard web site to view all the charts within each series along with a rather detailed description of each chart by placing your mouse over the chart’s artwork. In addition, each individual series web site also offers individual audio recordings for each chart which is both a very convenient and efficient way to peruse for charts for your ensembles.




DISCOVERY JAZZ Grade 1.5 - $35 each (includes full performance CD) Description: This series is designed for the beginning jazz ensemble. Students have been playing for one or two years and the instrumentation is likely to be unbalanced or incomplete. All rhythm section parts completely written out. Sample solos written in all parts within a section to allow for use as either solo or soli. Instrumentation: 5 Saxes, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Guitar, Piano, Bass, Drums and Aux. Percussion. Optional parts are: Tenor 2, Bari. Sax, Tpt. 3, Tbn. 2, Tbn. 3, Guitar, Bass and Aux. Perc. (The left hand of the Piano part doubles the Bass part) Also includes optional parts for Flute, Clarinet, F Horn, and Tuba.Ranges: Trumpet up to written D or E in the staff. Trombone up to C or D. Altos/Tenors up to written B or C above staffKeys: F, Bb, Eb, Ab and related minorsDuration: 2-3 MinutesIncludes "Teaching Aids" to the director and "Unison Patterns" on each part to help teach characteristic figures found in the arrangement. Total number of titles in Series: 130+Series highlights:Blues Machine - Michael SweeneyC-Jam Blues - arr. Rick StitzelGeorgia on My Mind - arr. Michael SweeneyKiller Joe - arr. Michael SweeneyOye Como Va - arr. Paul MurthaA String of Pearls - arr. John Berry
Click here to view all charts in this series plus listen to audio recordings of each chart.





ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS FOR JAZZ ENSEMBLE SERIES Grade 1-2 - $40 each - (includes full performance CD)Same guidelines and instrumentation as "Discovery Jazz"Added features:-teaching unit (similar to the EE Jazz method book) with exercises for rhythm, melody, and improvisation tailored to each individual arrangement. Total number of titles in Series: 23Series highlights:All of Me - arr. Michael SweeneyBallad for a Blue Horn - Mike SteinelMister Cool - Mike SteinelSo What - arr. Michael Sweeney
Click here to view all charts in this series plus listen to audio recordings of each chart.




EASY JAZZ ENSEMBLE Grade 2 - $40 each (includes full performance CD)Description: This series is designed primarily for Middle School Jazz Ensembles, however, arrangements in this series are also used extensively by less experienced High School groups. The level is geared to second and third year players. All rhythm section parts completely written out. Solo sections based on simple chord progressions (blues or modal) where possible, and sample written solos are provided.Instrumentation: 5 Saxes, 4 Trumpets, 4 Trombones, Guitar, Piano, Bass, Drums and Aux. Percussion. Optional parts are: Tenor 2, Tpt. 4, Tbn. 4, Guitar and Aux. Perc. Also includes optional parts for Flute, Clarinet, F Horn, and Tuba.Ranges: Trumpet 1 up to written F or G. Tpt. 2, 3, 4 up to written E or F. Trombones up to D or E. Altos/Tenors up to written C or D above staff. Keys: F, Bb, Eb, Ab and related minorsDuration: 3-4 MinutesTotal number of titles in Series: 140+Series highlights:All Blues - arr. Michael SweeneyBirdland - arr. Michael SweeneyGreen Onions - arr. Roger HolmesA Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square - arr. Roger HolmesSesame Street Theme - arr. Paul MurthaSuperstition - arr. Paul Murtha
Click here to view all charts in this series plus listen to audio recordings of each chart.

 


YOUNG JAZZ ENSEMBLE Grade 3 - $45 eachDescription: This series is designed primarily for average High School groups and better than average Middle School groups. All rhythm section parts completely written out. Solo sections include sample written solos. Also included are separate chord sheets in C, Bb, and Eb showing chords and scales. Instrumentation: 5 Saxes, 4 Trumpets, 4 Trombones, Guitar, Piano, Bass, Drums and Aux. Percussion. Ranges: Trumpet 1, 2 up to written G or A. Tpt. 3, 4 up to written E or F. Trombones up to F. Altos/Tenors up to written D or E. Keys: F, Bb, Eb, Ab, C and related minorsDuration: 3-4 MinutesTotal number of titles in Series: 250+Series highlights:Cotton Tail - arr. Mark TaylorGroovin' Hard - arr. Dave BarduhnIn the Mood - arr. Paul LavenderIt Don't Mean a Thing - arr. Mark TaylorKiller Joe - arr. John HigginsMission: Impossible Theme - arr. Roger HolmesNight Train - arr. John HigginsMy Funny Valentine - arr. Sammy NesticoSt. Thomas - arr. Mark TaylorTiger of San Pedro - arr. Paul Lavender
Click here to view all charts in this series plus listen to audio recordings of each chart.





JAZZ ENSEMBLE LIBRARY Grade 4 - $50- $55 eachDescription: This series is designed primarily for average to better than average High School groups. All rhythm section parts completely written out. Solo sections include sample written solos. Also included are separate chord sheets in C, Bb, and Eb showing chords and scales. Instrumentation: 5 Saxes, 4 Trumpets, 4 Trombones, Guitar, Piano, Bass, Drums and Aux. Percussion.Ranges: Trumpet 1 up to written C (opt. D). Tpt. 2, 3, 4 up to written G (opt. A). Trombone 1 up to A or B-flat. Tbn. 2, 3, 4 up to F. Saxes up to written E. Keys: F, Bb, Eb, Ab, C and related minorsDuration: 4-5 MinutesTotal number of titles in Series: 200+Series highlights:Afro Blue - arr. Michael Philip MossmanBoplicity - arr. Mike TomaroBrass Machine - Mark TaylorFly Me To the Moon - arr. Sammy NesticoGeorgia on My Mind - arr. Dave BarduhnGod Bless' the Child - arr. Sammy NesticoI Remember Clifford - arr. Sammy NesticoManteca - arr. Mike TomaroPick Up the Pieces - arr. Mark TaylorSpain - arr. Paul Jennings
Click here to view all charts in this series plus listen to audio recordings of each chart.



VOCAL SOLO WITH JAZZ ENSEMBLE SERIES Grade 3-4 - $50 eachDescription: This series is designed to feature a vocal soloist with jazz ensemble primarily for average High School groups. Often an optional tenor sax part is provided as a substitute for the vocal part, however, the primary intent is as a vocal solo. All rhythm section parts completely written out. Solo sections include sample written solos. Instrumentation: 5 Saxes, 4 Trumpets, 4 Trombones, Guitar, Piano, Bass, Drums and Aux. Percussion.Optional parts are: Tenor 2, Bari. Tpt. 4, Tbn. 3, 4 and GuitarRanges: same as grade 4 guidelines above Keys: F, Bb, Eb, Ab, C and related minorsDuration: 4-5 MinutesTotal number of titles in Series: 80+Series highlights:Blue Skies - arr. Roger HolmesDon't Know Why - arr. Paul MurthaFever - arr. Roger HolmesFly Me To the Moon - arr. Sammy NesticoThe Girl from Ipanema - arr. Roger HolmesIt's Only a Paper Moon - arr. Jerry NowakRespect - arr. Roger HolmesWhen I Fall in Love - arr. Jerry Nowak
Click here to view all charts in this series plus listen to audio recordings of each chart.




LITTLE BIG BAND SERIES Grade 3-4 - $45.00Description: This series is designed for smaller programs with not enough players to fill a traditional jazz ensemble, or for programs choosing to offer smaller group experiences for their students. Basic scoring is for 6 horns plus rhythm section, with optional parts to allow for instrumentation flexibility.Instrumentation: Alto, Tenor, Bari., 2 Trumpets, Trombone, Guitar, Piano Bass, Drums.Includes additional optional parts for Alto, Tenor and Trombone.Ranges: similar to grade 3 and 4 guidelines aboveDuration: 3-5 MinutesTotal number of titles in Series: 25+Series highlights:Afro Blue - arr. Michael Philip MossmanOleo - arr. Mark TaylorPick Up the Pieces - arr. Mark TaylorRan Kan Kan - arr. Michael Philip MossmanSolar - arr. Mike Tomaro
Click here to view all charts in this series plus listen to audio recordings of each chart.





PROFESSIONAL EDITIONS (Also "Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra" and "Mingus Big Band" series) Grade 5 - $60 eachDescription: This series is designed primarily for better than average High School groups and College ensembles. Often includes charts as recorded by professional bands. Rhythm section parts are notated, but with more frequent use of "slash" notation. Bass part written out in most cases, and piano voicings usually suggested. Solo sections show only chords. Instrumentation: 5 Saxes, 4 Trumpets, 4 Trombones, Guitar, Piano, Bass, Drums and Aux. Percussion.Ranges and Duration less restrictive and dependent on the needs of the individual chart. Total number of titles in Series: 140+Series highlights:Bag's Groove - arr. John ClaytonCount Bubba - Gordon GoodwinGeorgia on My Mind - arr. Sammy NesticoMoanin' - arr. Sy JohnsonSing Sang Sung - Gordon GoodwinStraight No Chaser - arr. John La BarberaSweet Georgia Brown - arr. Sammy NesticoWhat Is Hip? - arr. Mike Tomaro
Click here for Professional Edition, Click here for the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and Click here for Mingus Big Band to view all charts in each series plus listen to audio recordings of each chart.




COMBO SERIES EASY JAZZ COMBO Grade 2 - $25 eachSame guidelines as "Easy Jazz Ensemble" SeriesScored for 4 horns plus rhythm section. Part 1 - Trumpet or Alto SaxPart 2 - Trumpet or Alto SaxPart 3 - Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, or TrombonePart 4 - Trombone or Tenor SaxTotal number of titles in Series: 40Series highlights:Blue Bossa - arr. Michael SweeneyBlue Monk - arr. John BerryFly Me to the Moon - arr. Roger HolmesFreddie Freeloader - arr. Roger HolmesA Night in Tunisia - arr. Roger HolmesSesame Street Theme - arr. John BerrySt. Thomas - arr. John Berry
Click here to view all charts in this series plus listen to audio recordings of each chart.



JAZZ COMBO PAKS Grade 3 - $45.00 Each pak includes 4 complete arrangements.Scored for 3 horns plus rhythm section. Each part for Eb, Bb, and C includes all 3 parts.Includes complete recording for each tune.Total number of titles in Series: 30
Click here to view all charts in this series plus listen to audio recordings of each chart.

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