A few months ago, our very own Snorlax was here waxing-on poetically about the beauty and virtues of all things brass and conical ... particularly the euphonium and tuba. I was listening!
About the same time, I had been planning to create an original arrangement of a great bebop song featuring a standard five-man saxophone section (S-A-T-T-B). I thought it might be fun and interesting to add a euphonium to the mix. The euphonium plays the lead throughout (except on the sax soli) and is the featured improvising soloist. Piano, bass and drums round out the nonet. Click below to hear/download the arrangement …
Jazz Arrangement of Tadd Dameron’s “LADYBIRD”
The Euphonium is CoMB, the saxes and bass are JaBB, the piano GAS (basic) and the drums are Session Drummer 3 with some from JaBB as well. The arrangement was sequenced and mixed in Sonar X1.
Form of the arrangement …
Intro: Rhythm section (Note: Rhythm section plays throughout)
1stChorus: Euphonium lead
2ndChorus: Euphonium/Saxophone section lead
3rdChorus: Saxophone soli
4th Chorus: Euphonium solo
5th Chorus: Saxophone section “trades 4’s” with Euphonium solo
6thChorus: Piano solo
7thChorus: Euphonium/Saxophone section lead
Coda: Euphonium/Saxophone section lead
About the song …
Tadd Dameron (1917-1965) is one of my favorite bop composers (he also was an in-demand arranger and played piano). His tunes always display a sophisticated harmonic and rhythmic sensibility, and his melodies always seem to have a quirky, puckish character to them. His stuff is always very melodic and great to improvise off of.
“Lady Bird” is classic Dameron. The entire composition is only 16 measures long. Although grounded in C-Maj, at bars 3-4 he teases us with the ii-V from Eb-Maj, but instead returns back to C-Maj. At bars 7-8, via a different ii-V setup, he this time modulates up to Ab-Maj. At bars 11-12, he ii-V’s us down through G-Maj, where at bars 13-14 he logically ii-V’s us right back to C-Maj. (Measures 15-16 are a I-bIII-bVI-V turnaround). The melody is fairly chromatic, but Dameron contrasts this with three different series of leaps.
Even with horns, this tune is usually played in C-Maj, since nearly half the harmony is in flat keys anyway.
This arrangement features nearly all ‘block’ voicings. (Here’s a link to a related General Discussion question a forum member raised … “Block Writing vs Contrary Motion”).There’s just a tad of independence for the baritone sax (and bass) during the 7th chorus.
The 2ndand 7th Chorus’s (and coda) Euphonium/Saxophone section leads has the saxes playing in 5-part-drop 2 harmony, with the euphonium doubling the lead (the soprano sax) 8vb.
The 3rdChorus saxophone soli is mostly in 5-part close.
When the sax section trades 4’s in Chorus 5, it uses some wider spread voicings.
We were discussing Benny Carter on Jay’s “When Lights Are Low” thread and Carter’s prowess in writing sax solis. With 5-part harmony, these sax voicings are thicker and display more dissonance than a classic Carter sax soli. These are probably closer to a Thad Jones-styled voicing than to Carter’s. To lighten the sound up a bit, I would voice the saxes in 4-part/doubled lead, but I was going for this ‘riper’, edgier sound.
Sharing At The Forum …
Thanks to Jim (Snorlax) for raising our awareness of instruments that are near and dear to him. This is what I love here at the forum, that we all get to share aspects of music that are personal to us, and, as in this case, possibly cross-pollinating and creating a new piece of music sharing our interests.
Hope you enjoy “LadyBird”!
(... and a Happy Thanksgiving for all!)