Recorded by Nat 'King' Cole
Arranged by Nelson Riddle, Prepared for Publication by Dylan Canterbury, Rob DuBoff, and Jeffrey Sultanof
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Cat #: JLP-6015


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Edition: Jazz Big Band Arrangement

Description: Swing - Difficult

Publisher: Jazz Lines Publications

A somewhat rare example of an arrangement designed to feature Nat 'King' Cole's distinctive piano playing instead of his vocals, this Nelson Riddle arrangement of I Want to Be Happy is a short but sweet jaunt on an old classic. The main challenge of this performance comes from its brisk pace - make sure your ensemble keeps on top of things so the tempo never drags.

The entire arrangement is a showcase for piano, both as a melodic and improvising soloist. The melody statement at the beginning is broken up by some crisp retorts from the horns on occasion, which should be played somewhat forcefully to offset the more low-key dynamics of the rhythm section. Cole breaks into an improvised solo beginning at measure 27, with the horns providing some similarly sharp interjections for backgrounds. The ensemble gets a chance to showcase themselves briefly at measures 59 and 67, where the brass play a slightly modified version of the melody atop a corkscrewing counterline in the saxophones.

Cole's piano takes the spotlight back at measure 75 for one last improvised solo. At measure 83, the piano and horns trade snippets of the melody back and forth before Cole gets a couple solo breaks at measure 91. For the ending, the horns play a familiar ascending melodic cadence, with Cole then repeating it back with a brief cadenza to set up the grand finale.

This publication was based on Nelson Riddle's score and the original set of parts used for the 1955 recording session - this is not a transcription.


Full Score
2 Alto Saxophones
2 Tenor Saxophones
Baritone Saxophone
4 Trumpets
3 Trombones
Bass Trombone
Trumpet 1: D6
Trombone 1: C5