Recorded by Nat 'King' Cole
Arranged by Billy May, Prepared by Jeffrey Sultanof, Dylan Canterbury, and Rob DuBoff
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Cat #: JLP-9812DL


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Edition: Jazz Big Band Arrangement with Vocal

Description: Swing - Medium Difficult

Publisher: Jazz Lines Publications

Among the dozens of classic arrangements authored by Billy May to accompany vocalists of all stripes, his take on "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" for Nat 'King' Cole manages to stand out for its warmth, humor, and delightful sense of swing.

A simple riffing saxophone figure (with tenor sax as lead voice, a May trademark sound) sets up the melody's entrance at measure 5. This ensemble continues to serve as the main accompaniment until measure 21, where May's arrangement briefly takes on some surprising bebop influences (particularly in the brief saxophone figure at measure 24).

A gradually ascending ensemble figure at measure 37 sets up a typically brilliant May shout section, marked by the presence of a powerhouse brass section and "swooping" saxophones underneath. The vocalist re-enters on the bridge of the melody at measure 57, accompanied by a cheeky line in the bass instruments before giving way to more traditional accompaniment.

The key goes up a half step at measure 65 for the remainder of the arrangement. The vocalist tags the last phrase of the melody for a moment while the ensemble builds underneath, leading to a bit of a preemptive ending fake-out at measure 78. The actual final ensemble figure is a bit more subdued, with a simple melody recap in the trumpets leading into the final quick hit across the full band.

This arrangement is for jazz big band with male vocal soloist and has been prepared from Billy May's original score and the set of parts used during the recording session. On the original recording, the ensemble section from measure 41 to 48 was cut, likely for time purposes. We have included this section in order to restore the arrangement to its original intended state.


Full Score
2 Alto Saxophones
2 Tenor Saxophones
Baritone Saxophone
4 Trumpets
3 Trombones
Bass Trombone
Trumpet 1: F6
Trombone 1: Bb4