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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
I would be happy to get some advice. I have a beginner - bigband/combo at school with trumpets, flutes, altos, trombones and rhythm section; members are between 10 - 15. We have lots of bigband scores (easy jazz pack etc.), but most of these pieces are too advanced. So I arranged some titles for them, which worked pretty well:
Watermelon Man, C-Jam-Blues, St.Thomas, Hawaii-5-o, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, Sweet Emma, Coming home baby .....
Most of them are simple head-arrangements with background options and very basic piano parts.
Which titles would be great to be arranged and played this way? Did you play pieces/ arrangements you played with a similar group you liked?
Thank you for your tips!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
ah, I forgot Cantaloupe Island, of course.

Question in short: Which easy titles would be great for a beginner-band-quick-head-arrangement? I did the obvious numbers (Watermelon Man ...), now looking for similar pieces.
Thank you!
 

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Little Sunflower and Blue Bossa work well for beginner level stuff; and are relatively simple for beginner improvisors too.

I used to do composing and arranging for a community band which had an "anybody welcome" policy. Was a lot of fun; whilst challenging as an arranger to compliment the song but cater for all sorts of potential timbres. Basically I worked around creating parts that could be played by any collection of instruments, but of varying difficulty, sort of like multiple counterpoint melodies (with optional harmonies); so absolute beginners would get certain parts regardless of instruments and so on through to the more advanced parts. That way, some parts could be left out without affecting the whole piece if they were too easy (i.e. boring)/hard. Main thing I learnt is that each part had to be musically interesting though, people get switched off quickly playing boring long notes at that level.

Might be worth trialling some current pop songs as well?
 

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A simplified version of Milestones works well. Slower than Miles plays it. I bought a beginner jazz band arrangement of this and it is excellent. Blue Moon, Little Suede Shoes, Centerpiece, are good easy swing numbers that come to mind. Hit the Road Jack with a vocalist.
 

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I agree that passing the lead to the lower instruments will keep interest up and teach the higher horns some stuff about chords that they will find useful, besides making the band sound more complex.

Shiny Stockings
Lil Darlin
Moten Swing
April in Paris
Jump Lester Jump
1 o'clock Jump

Get them kids started on the Count early and they will be on the right path for life.
Basie Rules!
 

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Ah Lil Darlin is such a tune; but I always think it's harder than it looks. Ideally it should be super slow, and the band phrasing and dynamics are so important.

Absolutely beautiful when played well though!

Basie indeed does rule.
 
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