Arranged by Duke Pearson, Transcribed by Dylan Canterbury
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Cat #: JLP-7332DL


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Edition: Jazz Small Group Arrangement

Description: Swing - Medium

Publisher: Jazz Lines Publications

Although this tune from his 1965 album Sweet Honey Bee has a simple, straightforward structure and melody, Duke Pearson’s Big Bertha establishes itself as one of the most memorable tunes of his vast catalog.


The proceedings start off unassumingly enough, with a solo chorus of Pearson’s Basie-esque piano. This simple setup leads to the bluesy melody, stated in unison on the ‘A’ section by Freddie Hubbard, James Spaulding, and Joe Henderson. Pearson fills in the gaps between the melody with some simple fills that play around with, but never completely replicate, the melody itself. In this transcription, the melody is written out with chord changes provided for the pianist to embellish as they see fit.


Things get a bit more complicated on the bridge, as the horns split into harmony to accompany the melody statement by the piano. It is important for the horns to keep this in mind, as they should play soft enough to not overshadow the piano. The melody is noticeably more complicated on the bridge than it is on the 'A' section, which provides a nice sense of contrast. The A section is repeated once more after the bridge, complete with piano fills. After the open solo section, the melody is restated. A brief piano tag sets up the ending, which has some mild funeral march overtones. The rhythm section drops out for the horn fanfare, which slows down ever so slightly to set up a subdued rumble from the rhythm section to close things out.


In addition to providing a transcription of the original recording, included are alternate trombone and guitar parts to allow for ensemble flexibility. We sincerely hope you enjoy playing this tune as much as we enjoyed preparing it for you!

Full Score
Alto Saxophone
Tenor Saxophone
Trombone (Optional)
Guitar (Optional)
Trumpet: E5