Recorded by the Count Basie Orchestra
Arranged by Jimmy Mundy, Prepared for Publication by Dylan Canterbury, Lilah DuBoff, Rob DuBoff, and Jeffrey Sultanof
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Cat #: JLP-5136


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Edition: Jazz Big Band Arrangement

Description: Swing - Advanced

Publisher: Jazz Lines Publications

Jimmy Mundy's show-stopping take on Ol' Man River has an interesting and surprisingly long-winded origin story. It was initially conceived and arranged as a drum feature for Buddy Rich who was playing with Eddie Condon in 1949. Condon and Rich performed this live on TV for Condon's Floor Show (March 19, 1949). The chart was refined and developed over the next decade or so before making its way into the library of the Count Basie Orchestra to serve as a feature for drummer Sonny Payne. This publication is based on the Basie version that was recorded in 1958 and released on Not Now, I'll Tell You When.

Commencing with an ominous tom-tom roll, a series of thumping hits in the saxes and trombones surround a bugle-like trumpet fanfare to serve as a rather dramatic introduction. The saxes handle the first melody statement at measure 14, with some aggressive brass accompaniment. Most notable, however, is the frantic double-time feel in the rhythm section, punctuated by Payne's virtuosic-yet-musical fills. When the arrangement seems on the verge of bursting open with energy, the volume level sharply drops for a key change at measure 46, where the now-muted trumpets take over melody duties. The rhythmic and melodic quirks during this section will require a substantial amount of work for your section to get feeling comfortable and precise.

An interlude at measure 80 sees the trombones and saxes trade melodic barbs with each other around some short drum solos. Gradually building in volume, the whole band comes in for a raucous shout chorus that sees the double time feel dropped in favor of a hard-swinging backbeat at measure 92. This doesn't last long, as the trombones set up a return to the double time feel at measure 108. A melody recap from the piano and bass give way to a drum solo that dominates the remainder of the performance even when the rest of the band comes back in at measure 153. For the grand finale, the trombones hold a droning rhythm underneath a series of increasingly fast chords from the saxes and trumpets, with the drums serving as both soloist and director for a series of short blasts before a triumphant conclusion.

This publication was prepared from the original parts that the Count Basie Orchestra used for the 1958 recording session - this is not a transcription.


Full Score
2 Alto Saxophones
2 Tenor Saxophones
Baritone Saxophone
4 Trumpets
4 Trombones (Trombone 4 Optional)
Drum Set
Trumpet 1: E6
Trombone 1: Bb4