The great Duke Ellington always wrote and arranged for whatever players he had in his band at any given time. Consequently, material changed depending on what talents the performers displayed.
The nature of this ensemble, in the true tradition of America’s art form, emulates that approach. If a horn player is in the band, material will be chosen to feature that sound. Repertoire will often vary depending on whether there is an electric or upright bassist, or if there is a solid or hollow-body guitar. Nearly every sound imaginable has been used in jazz, so all instruments are welcome in this ensemble, including vocalists. Each player is expected to improvise and play a wide variety of music, including original compositions, if that is what a student has to offer. There is a historical aspect to this ensemble, with the goal being to play music from several periods of the past 120 years, covering multiple keys, tempos, feels, and meters. Students will be expected to attend performances outside of school and transcribe solos, and will perform live, record, and compete in festivals when possible.
1.) Learn “Autumn Leaves” — a jazz standard.
2.) Learn “Cantaloupe Island” by Herbie Hancock
3.) Be ready to improvise!