Poster Presented at the 2008 International Jazz Composers’s Symposium

Click on the poster below until it pops up if you would like to read the poster presented at the symposium.  The examples are drawn from my compositions and arrangements.

Jazz Composition Blog

Allen Myers – Poster Presentation “Inspiration in the Development of Form”

Brad Mehldau DMA Program Notes of a piano recital – discussion on his use of consonance and dissonance

BMI Jazz Composers Workshop

Bill Holman Interview

Earl MacDonald Blog:    Composing       Bob Brookmeyer rehearsing Vanguard Orchestra,     Arranging for Westchester Jazz Orchestra    Stealing from McNeely

George Handy arranger and composer of Boyd Raebrun Orchestra, Dissertation by Benjamin Biermann

Gil Evans Arrangement of “My Ship” w/ Transcription by Jim Martin

Herb Pomeroy – The Pocket Herb (notes from Herb Pomeroy’s Line Writing, Duke Ellington and Jazz Comp Courses and a second set of notes from Pomeroy’s Line Writing and Ellington classes)

Inside the Score in the 21st Century: Techniques for Contemporary Large Jazz Ensemble Composition by Tyler Dennis

International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers

Jacob Collier – Music Theory Interview

Jazz Continuum Collected Writings – Keeping the Peace by Graham Collier

Jazz Arranging and Composing Books

Scott Healy’s Jazz Composition Blog: Writing, Arranging and Listening

Scott Healy Blog

Tim Davies  – jazz part 1, jazz melody and voicing part 2,

UNC Jazz Press

 Bob Brookmeyer

The Life of Bob Brookmeyer 

A Study of BobBrookmeyers’ Compositional Stytle for Large Jazz Ensemble dissertation by Stephen J. Guerra Jr.

Darce James Argue

Darce James Argue’s Blog – Part of the Carnegie Hall Musical Exchange

Darce James Argue Interview

Performance at Berklee with the Rainbow Big Band

Duke Ellington

Smithsonian Online Virtual Archive

Duke Ellington Jazz Composition Study Group Los Angeles

Duke Elington and Billy Strayhorn Jazz Composers (Smithsonian Albert H. Small Document Gallery)

The International Duke Ellington Music Society 

Arranging Ellington: The Ellington Effect by Darcy James Argue – Article discussing the unusual voice leading in just a few bars of Ellington’s Mood Indigo.


John La Barbera

John La Barbera Jazz Arranging Interview Part 1

John La Barbera Jazz Arranging Interview Part 2

Jim McNeely

“Lickety Split”: Modern Aspects of Composition and Orchestration in the Large Jazz Ensemble Compositions of Jim McNeely: An Anyalsis of “Extra Credit”, “In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning” and “Absolution”

Jim McNeely Website – Study scores can be purchased in the store section

Mostly Music Blog – interview with Jim McNeely

OmniTone Interview

Village Vanguard Orchestra

Maria Schneider

Maria Schneider Website

Maria Schneider Videos includes advice to young composers, composer’s block and more

Body and Soul Suite World Premier

poster_001My Suite on the famous Coleman Hawkins recording Body and Soul is to be premiered at this free concert on April 18th at 7:30 pm in the Liberty Performing Arts Theater in Liberty, MO. It is located at

1600 S Withers Rd, Liberty, MO 64068 and is inside the Liberty Community Center.

Click here to read more about the suite.

Featured that evening will be trumpeter Al Pearson. Al has played with the Count Basie Orchestra, and backed up many artists over the years including Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Jackie McLean, Jay McShann, Claude “Fiddler” Williams, Bobby Watson, Lou Rawls, Debbie Reynolds, Crystal Gale, Stevie Wonder, Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, Sammy Davis Jr., Marvin Gaye and the Danville Illinois Symphony. Other guests include vocalist Caitlin Myers and dancers Paco Vitug and Dr. Yvonne Iway Spurlock. Mr. Vitug is a professional dancer, choreographer, and owner of Paco Dance Academy in Mission, Kansas and founder of PADANCO, a professional dance company.  He is trained in classical ballet, modern, hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, lyrical and ballroom. His professional credits spans two decades and includes performances throughout the US and in China. Mr. Vitug has choreographed “Flash Back 2000” for The Osmond Brothers, “Magic on Ice”, as well as other shows in Las Vegas and China.

Body and Soul Suite (2009)

CMB-2412-2For the 70th anniversary of the Body and Soul recording by Coleman Hawkins, I wrote a three movement suite with the intentions of having it performed by my jazz orchestra. I was asked to perform in the Northwinds Big band concert that happened to coincide with the day of the anniversary. I agreed to play with the understanding that my piece be performed on the concert. This saved me some time organizing a band as the director had musicians and a few rehearsals already scheduled. Unfortunately after three rehearsals in preparation for the concert, 43 degree weather shut down our outdoor concert.

My original intentions were for the suite to be much longer than three movements. I simply ran out of time to extend it several more movements in length. Once I was done, I went on to my next composition and did not look back to extend further. The future may hold a few more movements.

My goal was to pay tribute to the improvisational work of Hawk. The first challenge for me was to study the solo and determine what the building blocks, motives, for composing the suite would be. After this, my main concern was the first movement. Do I start constructing my own themes or do I somehow acknowledge the recording? Chances were quite good that a good portion of our audience would not have even heard the original recording. I decided to write a transcription of the original recording with just a few twists.

The orchestration was based on my tenet. The group consists of an alto, tenor, and Bari sax, two trumpets, two trombones and rhythm section. Both the alto and bari double as well on flute and bass clarinet for extended colors for the ensemble. With the tenor center stage, I was left with six horns and rhythm section for building the suite. My choice of a tenet is based on an early instrumentation of the band Either Orchestra.

In analysis of the recording I discovered what appeared to be multiple levels to Hawk’s lines as if to imply his own counter lines or playing a duet with himself. I decided to score horns coming in and out on the solo outlining the different levels. This means that the horns must move in and out of phrases along with the tenor soloist. Many players thinking as one with Hawk’s sense of phrasing. This would be a challenge for the band and hopefully at the same time open up an appreciation to his masterful solo. How do I write the parts? Do I simply put in rests between the phrases or do I write out the entire solo with cues? I chose the later and in addition to shrinking the note size for the cues, I enlarged the size of the main notes for each horn player. In addition to the shadowing of Hawk’s solo I included the original background accompanied horn figures and then altered them rhythmically to complement the rhythms of his improvisation.

Sometime in the early 90’s a Picaso exhibit was held at the Cleveland art Museum and featured a performance by jazz tenor saxophonist David Murray who was commissioned to write “The Picaso Suite” based on the first unaccompanied tenor saxophone solo which was also recorded by Coleman Hawkins. Since the event was sold out, I was able to listen to the concert broadcast live on WCPN Cleveland Public Radio. During intermission of the concert, but before the performance of the suite, the radio station played the original “Picasso” recording. This opened up the idea of allowing my soloist the opportunity to pay homage to Hawk’s “Picaso” in a similar manner. Between the movements the soloist sews the seams of my suite with their own take on Hawk’s improvisation.

The second movement entitled “Looking Forwards and Backwards” transfers the listener from the 1939 recording to something quite unexpected. The movement starts off with a straight eighth syncopated bass pedal point and leads into a modal composition with interpretation of motives extracted from Hawk’s solo.

The third movment, “Hawk’s Blues” continues to explore motives in a straight ahead swinging minor blues.

Closing to the Third Movement

The transformative nature of the suites last two movements allow each to stand very much on their own. Often the third movement is performed by itself.

The world premier of this work took place on April 18th 2013 at the Liberty Performing Arts Theater  in Liberty Missouri.


Id (1991)

The title “Id” is borrowed from Freud’s Personality theory. It is a name for the instinctual part of behavior. Instinct describes the quick process of composing this piece for big band. It was written while attending Indiana University and is dedicated to Domonic Spera. Mr. Spera’s big band gave the premier and a second performance at the Indiana Music Educators Convention in 1991. A year later I found Mr. Spera had incorporated the piece for discussion and listening as a part of his advanced jazz composition class. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. The dissonance of the main theme draws on the influence of Debussy’s use of exact parallel voicings as well as Duke Ellington’s cross section voicings. With each voice played by a different instrument among the different sections of the band, the dissonance of the minor second and the major seventh between voices I feel is further enhanced. I was looking for a striking sound to this angular theme.

Harmonic Structure of the horns voicing

Id Score page 3 The composition attempted to bring free and organized sections together for a raucous high energy groove. It is an up tempo 3/4 piece with rock and free jazz elements. Solo sections vary from a completely free section for the sax soloist, to ostinato figures with cross rhythms amongst the different sections of the band as background figures for the trumpet and trombone solos. The rhythmic figures were influenced by a study in African Rhythms back in the 80’s with the Ohio Chamber Orchestra and Cleveland Ballet tympanist George Kitely at Baldwin Wallace University (formerly known as Baldwin-Wallce College). Id page 10 Bob Brookmeyer gave some worthy advice upon hearing the piece years later while I was attending University of Missouri at Kansas City Conservatory. His advice was to never let the success of your piece be entirely dependent on the soloists. My recording had some wonderful soloing by some exceptionally talented young musicians but that did not stop him from offering his wisdom. His other piece of advice was drawn from his early years studying music history at the UMKC Conservatory. He recommended that I study the long expansive melodic lines of Gregorian chant. He also believed that a solo section should not occur until it is the only thing that can happen. Upon hearing “Shockwaves” for jazz octet, a work of mine from the mid 90’s, he felt I had reached a better balance than I had in “Id”. You can read about the form of Shockwaves in the Inspiration for Development and Form poster presented at the International Jazz Composers’ Symposium.