Arranged by Chuck Israels
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Cat #: JLP-5114DL


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Audio Sample:

Edition: Jazz Big Band Arrangement

Description: Swing - Medium Difficult

Publisher: Jazz Lines Publications

Lately, I’ve been busy writing arrangements—reviving and reimagining old American popular songs—music that’s come into the public domain and is now unburdened by composer/publisher licensing fees. I’m hardly the first musician to become intrigued by this older material. Sonny Rollins used a couple of older tunes in recordings and performances as early as the 1950s.

I don’t remember when I first hear Sonny’s version of Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye, but it’s been in my consciousness for more than a half century. And it’s not only Sonny Rollins who’s found creative inspiration in the recording of this tune that’s the basis for this arrangement. Pianist, Sonny Clark’s accompanying figures are balanced against the saxophone playing in a beautiful juxtaposition. As soon as I started thinking about orchestrated arrangements of this PD material, originally stimulated by David Berger’s recognition of the musical gold mine it represents, this recording from the LP, The Sound of Sonny, jumped to mind as not only worthy of expansion—and worthy of being payed by anyone who loves playing jazz, but also as an arrangement in which more than half the work had already been done. The original melody, the form, and the basic harmony of the song are indelible, and Sonny Rollin’s rhythmic interpretation adds propulsion and spacing so convincingly that, after hearing his interpretation, I don’t imagine hearing the song any other way. And Sonny Clark’s accompanying interjections are the perfect foil to the saxophone lead voice.All I wanted to do was transcribe it—so that I’d really understand and remember it, and write it for more instruments to expand the joy in hearing it.

I can’t say that part of the work comes easily to me. It takes countless hours of concentrated work. But then comes the fun—expanding and orchestrating the music to add power and color. Once I’d finished the opening melody chorus—not so difficult but deeply satisfying, I just kept going with the saxophone solo—it has such compelling energy and immediacy. And the form of the quartet arrangement, with it’s modulating interlude before the closing recapitulation is already complete. All that essential formal work was in place.

An important issue, if an arranger chooses to include an improvised solo in a written out arrangement— to be played by other instrumentalists, interpreting what a powerful improvisor created spontaneously, is how to do it effectively so the result maintains at least the essential elements of the original solo and adds color and density. If parallel harmony is added to everything, that blurs the line—taking a fine line and overpainting it with a broad brush without expanding the space. (I don’t find Supersax interpretations of Charlie Parker’s music add much to my understanding or appreciation of the originals.) Even adding unison or octave doubling to a detailed, improvised line can erase interpretive nuance. But it can also add power. In this case, most of Sonny Rollins’ solo is orchestrated in unison, with occasional spots spread into thicker harmony where I hear a moment that invites expanded color—most often when notes are longer, or a separated rhythmic figure appears interrupts the flow of rapid notes.

Apart from the treatment of the main melodic material, the piano is not an effective accompanying foil when pitted agains the larger forces of a big band, so some of Sonny Clark’s beautifully timed and conceived parts have been expanded and orchestrated into the brass parts.

That’s an after the fact description of how this work was done—work that was inspired by a love for the music, an intuitive “arranger’s response”, and a desire to share a personal experience that I hope carries value to others.

Full Score
2 Alto Saxophones
2 Tenor Saxophones
Baritone Saxophone
4 Trumpets
4 Trombones
Drum Set
Trumpet 1: C6
Trombone 1: A4