By Alex Stewart
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Extra info for Making the Scene: Contemporary New York City Big Band Jazz
In fact, some jazz compositions that have evolved during performance have been based entirely on riffs. The Count Basie Orchestra of the 1930s was known for such collective composition. A fundamental concern is the structure of the solo section itself. Traditionally, jazz musicians have favored strophic harmonic frameworks in which to improvise. Most often these were based on blues or thirty-two-bar popular song forms. Composers may wish to be free of such restrictions during the composed sections of the work, so that they may more freely explore motivic development and contrapuntal textures.
The wide range of blending styles found in jazz presents special problems to directors of school jazz bands and repertory ensembles that perform diverse repertoires. Now that the availability of arrangements has expanded, educators, in particular, need to understand and be able to convey to their students the very different demands of music played by, for example, the Mingus and the Bob Mintzer big bands. Some may have found, as have I, that students enjoy playing music that permits a degree of abandon and may have difficulty making the transition back to arrangements that require more careful blending.
The band then launches into “Bombshelter Beast,” the ﬁrst part of an extended suite based on Schneider’s childhood memories. We stay for only one piece so that we can race downtown to the Knitting Factory in time to hear the Oliver Lake Big Band. When Lake is not playing alto saxophone sideways to the audience, he makes strange gestures and hand signs to the band. Apparently the band has learned a secret code, for they respond with glissandos, staccato blips and blaps, long drones, and other unusual effects.
Making the Scene: Contemporary New York City Big Band Jazz by Alex Stewart