As Recorded by Miles Davis and Gil Evans on 1958's Porgy and Bess
Arranged by Gil Evans, Prepared by Dylan Canterbury, Rob DuBoff, and Jeffrey Sultanof
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Cat #: JLP-7551DL


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Edition: Jazz Studio Orchestra

Description: Swing - Advanced

Publisher: Jazz Lines Publications

In the story of 'Porgy and Bess,' a buzzard flying overhead is considered to be a sign of bad things to come. Although 'The Buzzard Song' starts out with the intention of serving as a warning, Porgy takes this opportunity to shoo the buzzard away, as he believes the buzzard's services as a bad omen are no longer necessary in his life.

The arrangement begins with a swiftly paced and powerful blast from the ensemble, featuring a dramatic tapering off of volume before the melody enters in the solo trumpet at measure 13. Although the volume level should remain fairly low at this point, there should be a somewhat unnerving sense of urgency within the orchestra's underpinning figures.

A shift in time signature at measure 42 sets up an improvised trumpet solo with some appropriately ominous background figures in the woodwinds and low brass. The backgrounds eventually expand to the full orchestra at measure 64, where a gradual crescendo creates a sense of building tension before the final measures of the trumpet solo bring things back down to a more subdued nature.

The final ensemble figure beginning at measure 80 has an almost film noir quality to it at times. The woodwinds and low brass provide some dark and foreboding textures underneath a melody line carried out by a tuba and bass duet. The section is repeated three times, ending on a whisper-soft dissonant cluster in the low brass.

Full Score
Solo Trumpet or Flugelhorn
Woodwind 1: Alto Saxophone
Woodwind 2: Alto Flute
Woodwind 3: Alto Flute
Woodwind 4: Bass Flute
4 Trumpets
3 Horns in F
3 Trombones
Bass Trombone
Trumpet 1: A6
Trombone 1: Bb4