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

A New Order Groove (2009)

Inspired by the big band writing of Chuck Owen while attending the International Jazz Composers’s Symposium several years ago, I set out to compose a work that paid tribute to one of his compositions.  The Jazz Surge big band was so impressive that I picked up every CD his band had available at the conference. My choice of composition was “Mo Leids” which is a sequel to his earlier work “Lieds”. I guess my composition “A New Order Groove” could be subtitled “Much Mo’ Leids”.  Though I am not sure if Mr. Owen would agree.

This piece was written for Kansas City based trumpeter Clint Ashlock and his New Jazz Order Big Band. The opening of the piece begins very similar to “Mo’ Leids”.  The “New Order Groove” is a funky jazz-rock style and explores the intervallic aspects of the blues scale.  Half step, whole step and minor thirds are exploited to achieve flexible direction for my phrases.

Improvisation functions for texture, transitions and in the traditional featured solo and collective sections. Texturally, various soloists interact with melodic statements in the opening section in an unpredictable manner to keep the listeners focus constantly shifting.  My goal was to knock the listener off balance a bit and yet still engage them. After an extensive set up leading into the main theme, two traditional solo sections follow featuring the tenor sax and Clint on trumpet.

Click several times on the score to enlarge.

At letters T to X featured soloists introduced one at a time. A vamp drum solo is followed by a vamp bass and drum solo.  Letter V introduces the bari sax into the mix.  Within four bars slowly the band starts to respond to the soloists.  Over time each new voice improvising interacts with the others to additively increase the density of the texture.

At letter X a heavy demand is placed on the 1st tenor sax, bari sax, trumpet 3 and trombone 2 to create and hold a groove without the assistance of the rhythm section. From Y to BB, once through the alphabet it was time to double up on the rehearsal letters, the whole band eventually joins in with ever increasing lengthening and overlapping phrases slowly overtaking the soloists. Each soloist one at a time take their place back into the interactive layers of their section in the band.  The same approach happens earlier during the tenor sax solo when prodding interjections by the band eventually swallowed up the soloist.

Another example of textural development occurs during Clint’s solo. The solo starts with trumpet and rhythm section. Each section leading up to letter T slowly increases rhythmic activity and background figures continue to extend into longer sixteenth note phrases. By letter S the whole band is backing Clint with call and response phrases heard from soprano sax and Alto 2, fast moving lines in the tenor sax and trumpet 2, syncopated figures by the trombones with trumpet 3 and 4, and a bass line outlined by the bass, baritone sax and 4th trombone.

Solo Piano CD Release

TJ Martley has released his CD Meditations Vol. 1 just recently.  I mastered the recording.  You can hear a sample and learn more about the CD from his website link below.


Plastic sax blog review as “one of the best albums released by a locally based jazz musician in 2012.”

Moose the Mooch (2010)

Originally arranged for the Kansas City based contemporary ensemble Blackhouse Collective, the most recent version is for big band. My goal was the unexpected. Infusing a jazz standard with the unexpected was where the fun began for me as I set out to put my own stamp on the contrafact of “I Got Rhythm”.

The extended introduction consist of a drum solo with fragmented improvised manipulations of motivic cells drawn from the melody stated by the horns. These phrases are further fragmented at times when they are divided across different sections of the band creating a Klangfarbenmelodie (pointallistic effect). No harmony is stated though a few clusters surrounding the motives are added for spice.

Click on score for larger version

Once the melody is stated at letter K, a syncopated groove established with parallel fifths attempt to keep the listener off balance and harmonically vague. The pointallistic approach continues in the horns as the melody is stated providing shifting colors from various members diving in and out of the phrases. The bridge provides a momentary release as the bass references the chord changes in a chromatic and syncopated way.

The first solo following the statement of the theme starts off with traditional Rhythm changes. Unexpectedly for the next two chrouses minor major seventh chords are substituted for the original changes. The relationship of these new chords also change over time leading to unpredictable harmonic direction. Over the first two A sections and the bridge where a minor chord is heard, a minor major seventh is substituted. The first bar Bb7 to Gmi7 becomes GmM7. The second bar Cmi7 F7 becomes simply CmM7. This pattern continues until the last A section starting in bar 201. The minor major sevenths are added a half step above the expected minor chords. Bb7 to Gmi7 being treated as an altered G7 becomes a bar of AbmM7. In the next bar the Cmi7 to F7 becomes F#mM7 a half step above the dominant. As the third chorus begins further exploration of substitutions continue. The overall sound is of passing diminished whole-tone scales that push us away from the standard progression.

Coming out of the Melodic Minor harmonic background, the syncopated fifths in the low register return with a short eight bar interlude by the horns pushes into a one chorus soli section with more traditional harmonic progression. Compare the different chourses as the soli section enters with the following choruses for the tenor sax solo. The unexpected returns as the progression continues to explore reharmonized variations on the progression for further chromatic exploration.


A = Bb7 G7 Cmi7 F7 Dmi7 G7 Cmi7 F7 Fmi7 Bb7 Eb7 Eo7 F7 (1 bar) Cmi7 F7

A = Bb Bo7 Cmi7 C#07 Dmi7 C#o7 Cmi7 Bo7 Bb7 Bb7/D Eb7 Eo7 F7 (2 bars)

B = D7alt./Eb (2 bars) G7alt./Ab (2 bars) C7alt./Db (2 bars) F7alt./Gb F7(#11)

A = Bb7 G7 Cmi7 F7 Dmi7 G7 Cmi7 F7 Fmi7 Bb7

Tenor Solo:

A = Bb7 Db7 Gb7 F7 Ab7 G7 Gb7 F7 Bb7 E7 Eb7 A7 Bb7 G7 Gb7 B7

A = E7 G7 C7 F7 D7 Db7 C7 B7 Bb7 Bb7/D Eb7 Eo7 Ao7/Bb (1 bar) Bbo7 (1 bar)

B = AmM7 EbmM7 DmM7 AbmM7 GmM7 DbmM7 CmM7 F#mM7

The last A section of the first chorus took one player by surprise during a reading because the changes for the rhythm section are different than those for the tenor soloist. Here is the progression for each part.

Tenor Sax:

A = AbmM7 GbmM7 AbmM7 GbmM7 BmM7 EmM7 AbmM7 FmM7

Rhythm Section:

A = Bb7alt G7alt Cmi7 F7alt Dmi7 G7alt Cmi7 F7alt Fmi7 Bb7alt Eb7alt (1 bar) Bb7alt G7alt Cmi7 F7alt

Similar harmonic patterns from the beginning of the tenor solo return at the top of the second chorus. The last A of the second chorus lands on an F pedal. In the last four bars we get a foreshadow of what is to come as the texture in the horns thickens as they slowly enter coming in on the and of beat four in each bar playing any low note they wish. The effect is percussive and potentially very dissonant.

Improvised low note of choice for percussive effect

The third chorus of tenor solo finds the band once again in standard chord territory. In the bridge I have a dissonant chord rescored as each new rhythm enters. The chord is constantly reorchestrationed and plays against the tenor part in minor major seventh harmony, a bassist creating his own atonal bass line and the guitarist and pianist playing what is only marked as dissonant chord with the rhythms of the previous choruses and of beat four rhythm. The reorchestrated chord was an attempt to have a static chord change in color over time.

Another interlude of sorts develops for 25 bars staring at letter DD involving the whole band ensues with continued exploration of klangfarben melodic snaky lines passing from one horn to another as the drummer fills between the phrases. Floating fifths return leading into a shout chorus of sorts that is similar in texture to the preceeding interlude. Dissonace builds during the bridge leading into an inverted version of the contours of the melody broken up in a pointallistic style amongst the various members of the band. The pitches of the inverted melody are choosen by the band members themselves. The pull of tonal progressions leading to chromatic altered style harmony find its way to atonality.

At letter JJ the return of the main theme arrives. Unlike the early version, this one quickly breaks down as slowly more players are asked to only follow the contour and rhythms while choosing their own notes.

Atonality increases slowly to blur the melody

The bridge at KK brings the band to half time and slowly more and more players are asked to improvise a short solo, thickening up the texture as the last four bars accelerate into LL where the band returns to the original tempo. At this point the themes original contours, are stated and the band improvises note choices once again as more and more horns enter leading into the tag. The tag also has improvised note choices and accelerates to the end where a one bar drum fills leads into a Bb stinger.

Entire band improvises on the contour of the theme.

Shifts in color was achieved with not only passing the melody amongst the different sections, but also from changing mutes in the brass and with Alto 1 doubling on flute and tenor 1 on clarinet. It was the contour and the rhythmic nature of the theme “Moose the Mooch” that led me to choosing this piece for the Blackhouse Collective. I felt it was possible to still recognize the basic elements of the tune despite pitch choices by the musicians. Early on in the work, cluster voicings and the stretching of the harmonic territory were utilized for increasing moments of surprises for the listener and to prepare the way for the ending. Atonality slowly creeps its way into the fabric of the work allowing for a major climax in the closing bars of the piece. Due to its length and limited rehearsal, it did not make it on the Blackhouse Collective concert. The score examples here reflect the reorchestrated version for big band.  The chart now sits in the folders of Clint Ashlock’s New Jazz Order Big Band here in Kansas City.

Allen Myers Jazz Orchestra

Concert 4-18-13

Allen Myers Jazz Orchestra at Liberty Performing Arts Theater 4/18/13

History of the Allen Myers Jazz Orchestra:

The Allen Myers Jazz Orchestra was formed in fall of 2006 by like-minded musicians dedicated to the pursuit of performing new jazz music in the context of a large ensemble. The group can vary in size from 10 – 12 players as the need arises. Repertoire for the ensemble includes jazz standards and original compositions. The main focus is to advance the repertoire seeking new directions in jazz while inspiring musicians and audiences alike.

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The band placed with Very Honorable Mention at the New Musicians Showcase at the Liberty Community Center in Liberty Missouri (1/27/07).

Are you interested in having the jazz orchestra for an upcoming event? Consider these responses to our past performances.

Thanks for a wonderful evening. I have heard nothing but good things about your group. It was very enjoyable. I just wish I had more time to stop and enjoy the evening ! Everyone loved your music. Thanks for adding to our wonderful event (1/17/09 Count Basie Ballroom Downtown Marriott in Kansas City).

Shelley Krogmann
National Claims Specialist
Vehicle Service Contract Claims Dept.


I loved it! And I know the crowd did too. It really “jazzed up” the general reception. Susan Arbo William Jewell College Achievement Day Reception at Westin Crown Center 2007 (3/8/07).


Previous Engagements:

Make Music Day in Liberty, Missouri (2016)

Woodneath Library, Liberty, Missouri (2015-16)

American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, Missouri  (2013-14)

Liberty Performing Arts Theater Liberty, Missouri (2013, 2016)

Elms Hotel Wine Festival Excelsior Springs, Missouri (2012)

Count Basie Ballroom Downtown Marriott in Kansas City (2009)

Zona Rosa (2008)

Achievement Day Dinner for William Jewell College (2007 – 2008)

Cupini’s Restaurant Historic Square Liberty Missouri (Aug – Jan 2007)

Make Music Day 6/21/16 Performance of “Liberty Missouri”

Liberty Performing Arts Theater Nov. 10th 2016

Performance at Woodneath Library 2016

Products available for sale featuring Julia Reynolds with the Orchestra

Zona Rosa Performance

Photo Gallery #1  

Photo Gallery #2

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