Swing music suggestions.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by StevePJ, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. StevePJ

    StevePJ Member

    I’m booked to conduct a 3rd section standard band for a British Legion event. I want to put a big band/swing music set together and would appreciate suggestions of decent arrangements of music playable by a lower section band. Thanks.

    Merry Christmas. :p
  2. satchmo shaz

    satchmo shaz Active Member

    miller magic, slides in swingtime, mood indigo, I only have eyes for you, cute, lightwalk, just a closer walk, thats a plenty, candy man
    we have played all of them :)
  3. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Satin Doll, [TABLE]
    [TD="class: xl65, width: 336"]At the Sign of the Swinging Cymbal[TABLE]
    [TD="class: xl65, width: 336"]Caravan [TABLE]
    [TD="class: xl65, width: 336"]Guaglione[/TD]
    [TD="class: xl65"]Hot Toddy [TABLE]
    [TD="class: xl65, width: 336"]Li'l Darlin'[/TD]
    [TD="class: xl65"]Malaguena[/TD]
    [TD="class: xl65, width: 336"]I'm Beginning to See The Light[TABLE]
    [TD="class: xl65, width: 336"]Opus One[TABLE]
    [TD="class: xl65, width: 336"]Sing Sing Sing (With a Swing)
  4. WorldofBrass.com

    WorldofBrass.com Active Member

    Deep River (arr. William Broughton); Count Basie style.

    Swingtime Religion (arr. Barrie Gott); based on an original melody and the gospel song 'Give me that old-time religion'.
  5. Miss Saxophone

    Miss Saxophone New Member

    Orange coloured sky (if you have a vocalist)
    Autumn leaves
  6. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member


    Brass bands don't swing, they dangle. (Unless they're from Central Florida, of course ... )
  7. classicbrass

    classicbrass Member

    Maybe this is why the Brass band movement in Britain is viewed so negatively? It might just be me but I like to play to entertain people and for the feedback they give in genuine applause at the end of a piece.

    I recently played a set with a local community adult wind band (probably about as good as lower 4th section band ) - started with Liberty Bell ( which had everybody clapping in time after the fanfare) then Smoke on the Water, Lord of the Dance , Troika finishing with Toccata and Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer, and the applause was fantastic - a proper adrenaline rush.

    Let's lose the stiff upper lip and make the public appreciate our efforts.
  8. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    ^ but none of those pieces are swing classicbrass :-?

    Gareth, posts like yours make me wish there was a "like" button on here....
    its nothing to do with a stiff upper lip or failing to entertain, just recognising that brass bands are generally really bad at swinging.
  9. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Point ... missed ...

    It's not so much the "like" button we're missing, as the "tongue-in-cheek" icon, evidently ...
  10. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    It's a vicious circle though isn't it? Bands are notoriously bad at swing, so MD's don't programme it, so the band doesn't get used to the style, so the band remains bad at swing.....

    I don't think it helps that most of the band arrangements I've played are notated in written-out swing (ie: dotted-quaver-semiquaver) with tenuto/staccato articulartion all over it. I think it'd be far easier to get into the style of it if it was just written with regular quavers and a 'swing' instruction - which implicitly defines the articulation anyway.

    It's no different to having the correct style for a hymn or a march, it's just a different style of playing than brassies are generally used to. And unfortunately a lot of players and MD's don't give it the respect it deserves.

    PS - OP: If you've got a kit player who can show off a bit, 'Sing Sing Sing' is a reasonable arrangement.
  11. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Yes. I agree I find the "written-out" swing notation annoying and unhelpful, and would far rather the arrangements were notated in exactly the same way as the originals. I'm not sure it negates the need for the articulation markings though - my experience of playing big-band gigs is that the articulation markings are very precise, and crucial to the reading, to the extent that even when brass band arrangements are notated correctly, the players don't give sufficiently high priority to observing them. When I stop to correct rhythmic patterns early in the read-through, I'm often met with the response "give us a chance we're still trying to read the notes". If I had a pound for every time I've said "read the rhythms first, then worry about the actual notes later" ... But it's ingrained to do it the other way round, so it's going to be difficult to change, which goes back to your first point about familiarity. What I'm usually trying to get over to the band, is that when playing a swing arrangement, a few incorrect pitches in a jazz chord aren't going to be as immediately noticeable to an audience as one person playing an incorrect rhythm, or even one person playing a long crotchet when everyone else is playing a short crotchet. And then of course one has to take into account that articulations in a "swing" context don't always mean the same thing as they do in a "straight" context ... and so on ...
  12. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    As big band 2nd trumpet chap myself I have to agree with the above and Thirteen Ball.

    Swing is a style of reading.

    In the main, Original Swing Music is (on face value) written straight.
    No tenuto/staccato markings etc...
    It is however read as such (sort of) ... as one of the first styles you learn in Big Band playing is how to read/play 'jazz quavers'
    The articulation is of course very important but is another layer on top of the assumption that you swing what is written straight. :)

    Swing number ?
    As I said I agree that it is the MD's job to educate players how to swing.
    Why not take 'ding dong merrily on high' from a standard carol book and educate the band in swing reading.
    I would choose this as the melody makes use of several quaver runs, which would be fun to turn into Jazz Quavers.
    Anticipate the downbeat at the start of phrases etc etc
    Basically ..... play naughty and enjoy.

    I have never encountered a brass band style swing arrangement that
    a) worked
    b) was easy to read

    For someone who plays in a swing band it is doubly difficult to read brass band swing arrangements as you are torn between swinging naturally or attempting to perform what is actually written.
    such is the regimentation of brass band musical conditioning,.
  13. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    But personally, I'm not convinced that you can "teach" someone to swing. It was Louis Armstrong who famously said, "If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know." Substitute "swing" for "jazz" and I suspect the statement is equally valid. But that's not to say it can't be "learnt" - however my belief is that the only way to learn is not by theoretical means, but by listening. You have to immerse yourself in the recordings by the masters of big-band swing, starting with Fetcher Henderson, and moving through Ellington, Basie, and numerous others, until the "feel" becomes second nature.

    People who enjoy playing, and want to play big-band music, will do this, but the majority of "dyed-in-the-wool" brass-banders will likely have neither the time nor inclination to do it, therefore I don't see it as a situation that will ever really improve. Might seem an unnecessarily gloomy outlook to some, but it's just my opinion. Besides, those who know me will confirm that I'm not generally known for being a little ray of sunshine ...:oops:
  14. euph77

    euph77 Member

    I guested with a band last weekend whose Christmas programme was half full of jazz numbers including Opus One, Valero, Hello Dolly and various carols arranged in jazz styles (such as We Three Kings as a jazz waltz) and it worked very well: the quavers in the swung numbers were written straight but the band played them convincingly with a very competent MD at the helm who knew his music. It entertained the audience, even if some of the band were not too keen on the style.
  15. StevePJ

    StevePJ Member

    Thanks very much for the helpful suggestions. I’m not getting involved in a discussion about whether or not brass bands can swing because it’s not the basis of the thread. It’s also something that’s been discussed so many times before.
  16. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    Not gloomy at all !! ...... If its not discussed then it can't be improved.
    Without alternative views any discussion is bland and boring. :)

    You said
    "read the rhythms first, then worry about the actual notes later"

    This is also something I often say.
    Quite often turning a students music over so they HAVE to play the rhythm.
    Once that's in place I turn the music back over and he presto... fixed.

    I am writing a swing style piece at the moment for FMFK... but it depends on whether or not the OP is looking for well known old time swing numbers a audience will recognise or anything that 'swings'

    I remember playing that '3 kings' number once in a brass band... it seemed to work reasonably well.
  17. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    I would also look at doing something to break up the 'swing' style in every piece. A Latin number? Tequilla. . . Something with a nice straight groove - I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel To Be Free . . Cute, as has been mentioned to break up the tempo's. . Also, have you thought about your drummer's capabilities? can he/she provide the right feel? maybe worth booking a local swing drummer to really get the style set right at the back, of course this may also offend!!
  18. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    ... and of course then you have to train the band to follow the drummer and not the conductor ... (!)
  19. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    Not always. . . but maybe so. But a classy drummer that can phrase and swing makes so much difference to a band trying to play in this style. . .
  20. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    Not only is a good drummer essential, but so is training the basses to drive the band, rather than sit back on a walking line... Inevitably, perhaps, four tubas cannot easily achieve the same effect as a string bass! Listen to Jimmy Blanton (his recordings with Duke Ellington's orchestra are superb) or Eddie Jones on "The Complete Atomic Basie" (an album which features a good number of inconic Neal Hefti arrangements - not 'Cute', sadly, but certainly 'Splanky' also has been arranged for brass band).

    The tendency for players who have grown up in brass banding is to want to play every note they see very precisely, and with equal weight (I'm not saying swing isn't precise; if it isn't, it sounds awful!) It's more about getting the feel of which notes are strong, and which are weak - or short/long etc. - this can be shown in notation, but only to a certain extent.

    Ultimately, getting that feel embedded is crucial - it often comes down to singing/vocalising rhythms in order to achieve this, something which a lot of conductors (not to mention players) are often unnecessarily shy of doing.

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