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

Searching (2008)

Musicians learn as they come into my band not to rely on when or what the player next to them is playing. My band only has two trumpets, two trombones and in the saxophone section an alto, tenor and bari sax along with the rhythm section. Those sight reading sometimes begin to second guess their entrances.  the horn writing maybe cross-sectional writing, thank you Duke Ellington, or passages may be soloistic.   One fellow in the trombone section of a big band sight reading one of my arrangements happened to pick up a different  mute than the guy next to him, thank you Manny Albam, and began to question if he was in the right place. What does this say about the predictability of a lot of big band writing?

Occasionally lead lines are passed around shifting quickly.  At the climax of Searching, a bossa nova, motives are layered as well as passed around the band quickly.  Each persons part is like one piece of a puzzle and it is not until all the pieces are laid out next to each other that you can see the entire picture, or in our case hear the intended musical outcome. With so much shifting taking place, and every part being important, I have dropped the indication “lead” with a dotted line over the important section I would normally notate in a players part.

Starting in bar 197 there are four and five note motives. The contours to the continuous eighth note phrases differ slightly and slowly start to overlap each other. Some are ascending while others a descending.  At letter K the music shifts rhythmic gears with the introduction of sixteenth notes. At bar 211 imitation takes place with these quicker moving lines. The arrows in the score indicate four and five note motives and the boxes show the phrases in imitation. Click on score pages to enlarge.

Start of the climax

Start of the climax

Searching p. 28Searching p. 29