2020 STAGE BAND SET PIECE SAMPLES

Below are the samples of the Stage Band Set Pieces commissioned for the 2020 Generations in Jazz Festival.

All Stage Bands entering the City of Mount Gambier National Stage Band Award are required to present a varied program which includes the 2020 GIJ Set Piece, Ballad of Own Choice & Own Choice Pieces. The Set Piece is the main gauge Music Directors have to decide which division to enter. Sample Set Piece Scores, Grade levels and chart descriptions are available below.

On 15 October Generations in Jazz will be launching its brand new website where Music Directors can purchase charts and full audio tracks online via PayPal for the 2020 event. Alternatively schools can order via a Schools Purchase Order (PO). Schools wishing to order charts via PO are asked to send a request together with the relevant PO No. to admin@generationsinjazz.com.au

Each band should be presenting a varied program across their 3 charts.  The Set Piece, and performance of a ballad (of your choice) are compulsory. If the test piece is a swinger, playing a st. 8ths chart (latin, funk, contemporary st. 8ths, etc…) as your own choice is a good idea. Alternatively, if the test piece is a st. 8ths piece (latin, funk, etc…), you will be required to play a swinger as your own choice. The swing style must be demonstrated somewhere in each band’s performance. If the test piece is a swinger, and you would like to perform another swing piece as your own choice, ideally you would pick a chart that is of a different tempo to the test piece (if the test piece is a medium swinger, play a bright chart. If the test piece is bright, play a classic medium swinger, etc…). Note: no band will ever be marked down for playing more than one swinger.

DIVISION 1 – NATIONAL STAGE BAND AWARDS

Set Piece: Scar for Charlie
Composed & Arranged by:  Vanessa Perica
Difficulty Level: Grade 6 (Pro)

Scar for Charlie – PDF (download free sample)
Div 1 – Scar for Charlie Sample (listen to free sample)

PERFORMANCE NOTES:

This composition has moments of beauty, angst, ferocity and playfulness. The form is largely based on a minor blues but then at times morphs into other harmonic directions. This melody was originally written for tenor saxophone, but can also be adapted for alto saxophone. The driving bass line figure is critical to the sound of the performance. Emotional connection is key. Hope you enjoy playing this piece!

  • Flugelhorns are optional. If you don’t have access to flugelhorns, trumpets 2, 3 & 4 can play ‘into stand’ for the intro and outro instead.
  • Please nominate either Alto Sax 1 or Tenor Sax 1 to play the feature melodies. This applies to bars 1 – 19 , 156 – 161 and 176 – 179. *Note, whoever is not playing the feature, please play the two paused minims (concert G to A) at bar 179.
  • Rhythm section needs to play the groove with much passion and grit. Study the recording as much as possible to capture the spirit intended. This will set up the ensemble for a great performance.
  • The bass figure in the left hand of the piano may be played by both hands, as the hand-span required for this may be tricky for some. If this is the case, the pianist does not need to comp for bars 14 – 31, 34 – 37, 156 – 173.
  • At letter M, it is important that the pianist is still firing in their solo to set up the final melody at N. If unable to play the bass figure at M whilst soloing, please forego the bass line here to focus on a high energy solo. If this does happen, please ensure the pianist nails beat 1 of the bass line at N.
  • Stay mindful of balance during solos. Dynamics of horn backings behind solos may be tweaked slightly to ensure the soloist does not get drowned out.
  • At Bar 175, please ensure a clean break at the Caesura for extra drama. This also gives any upright bassists an extra moment to pick up their bow.

DIVISION 2 –  NATIONAL STAGE BAND AWARDS

Set Piece: BREADCRUMBS
Composed & Arranged by:
Grant Windsor
Difficulty Level:
Grade 4.5

Breadcrumbs – PDF (download free sample)
Breadcrumbs Audio Sample (listen to free sample)

PERFORMANCE NOTES:

I wrote Breadcrumbs as a dedication to what helped me fall in love with Jazz when I was younger.
I used to remember playing Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Thad Jones charts in my youth big band as a student and the same thing hit me every time, it was the feeling of swing. These magical phrases dripped harmony and feeling, inspired me to learn more and to feel the swing as much as I could.
Swing is a hard thing to notate as it can change phrase-to-phrase depending on the personality of what you are playing. It’s a sixth sense that develops over time and playing swing music. It’s a character and authority that energizes the music, that’s what I want to hear!
The placement of all the phrases in Breadcrumbs should be felt and full of character. As Frank Foster said to me while playing his chart Blues in Hoss’s Flat”, “ Put some Grease on it!”
You can kind of play with the phrases till they feel great. The notation gets you 70% of the way there; the rest is up to you.
The orchestration of the chart brings every player in to the light.
At times we have small combos in the band playing against each. These need to blend like any other sections. This kind of independent writing will show case some unique blends of the band. Special attention should be given to adjusting you personal levels so that each voice is heard. Once balance is achieved, then work hard on everyone phrasing together. Make it swing!
The harmony in the solo section will need to be looked at. There are lots of extensions on each chord. It’s a great exercise in finding new melodies through these extensions and for the piano player to seek new voicing’s to lead this harmony.

To the guitarist, your part has a lot of notes on it!
You are blending and phrasing with many different sections throughout the chart. I purposefully did this so that you had to read the single lines, so take it slow and learn it. It’s full of great phrases that perhaps later you might use in a solo.
There are a few extra range and orchestration challenges that can be altered if needed:

• The last note of the 1st trumpet is an optional 8va.
• If the 4th trumpet doesn’t have a flugelhorn, just play in stand.
• If the Baritone doesn’t have the low A, take it up the octave.

So it’s over to you!
Have fun with it and enjoy swinging.
I can’t to hear your unique version of Breadcrumbs. Grant Windsor


DIVISION 3 – NATIONAL STAGE BAND AWARDS

Set Piece: The Bold One
Composed & Arranged by: Steve Newcombe

Difficulty Level: Grade 3.5

The Bold One – PDF (download free sample)
The Bold One Audio Sample (listen to free sample)

PERFORMANCE NOTES:
“The Bold One” tips the hat to strong and powerful idealists who have forged their own path or destiny. It’s inspired by Jazz Composers such as Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Kenny Wheeler, and Bob Brookmeyer who all made bold and individualistic statements through their music. I aimed to feature each section of the ensemble in a bold statement, and what better way to start things off then with a ‘moment’ for the pianist to create a sound world for the opening. The suggestions for the solo here are quite open to allow the pianist to find a unique interpretation.

“Tourist Point of View” from The Far East Suite by Duke Ellington is a fantastic reference for the rhythm section groove, and the general ‘sound’ that the ensemble can aim for. Listing to this track will help with the aesthetic but the tempo of the Ellington track is a little faster than where I’ve written “The Bold One”. The interpretation of 8th notes through the piece can lean more towards ‘swing’, while the rhythm section for the most part will sit more clearly in even 8ths.

Dynamics are really important all the way through, and the section at letter I can really showcase the full range of dynamic from soft to loud.


DIVISION 4 –  NATIONAL STAGE BAND AWARDS

Set Piece: A Little Loosener
Composed & Arranged by:  Nick Mulder

Difficulty Level:  Grade 2.5

A Little Loosener – PDF (download free sample)
A Little Loosener Audio Sample (listen to free sample)

PERFORMANCE NOTES:

“A Little Loosener” is a medium-up jazz waltz in a blues form with an interlude bridge. While the melody is relatively simple, the meter and tempo of the piece may not be familiar to bands at this level. The piece will work below MM 180, but directors should take care to ensure the tempo doesn’t go beyond this as the figures will feel rushed. While the piece is definitely in a swing feel, horn players should think about ‘straightening out’ or ‘broadening’ the 8th notes. It is critical for drummers to get this feel right, starting with the ride cymbal. There are many great examples to listen to; Windows by Chick Corea is a great starting point.

Some things to consider: -Keep backing figures behind the melody (letter A) and solos (letter B) light. Follow the marked dynamics but don’t be afraid to follow the contour of the line to give the music some light and shade. -For brass, the forte at letter C and letter F is full and strong but not so loud as to overpower the saxophones. Saxes should take care not to drag the 4/3 figure in these sections. -The clapping in the rhythm section from 8 bars before letter D probably won’t feel natural initially, but will settle over time. Count carefully, but more importantly play this section until you don’t need to count. It’s important for everyone to feel comfortable here or things may come unstuck! Again, follow the written dynamics but the overall effect is to build up to letter F where all the tension is released. -The section from letter G to the end is an extended coda. Rhythm sections should focus on the groove and making the 2 and 3 in the bar feel natural together. Horn players can focus on balance and blend, making sure that the melodies from trumpets/altos and trombones/low saxes come out with no rough edges. Pay particular attention to moving together rhythmically and dynamically.
The solo section uses only 2 chords to enable young improvisers to really get the required scales under their fingers. First choice scale for a minor 11 chord is the dorian mode (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7, 8) and I encourage soloists to learn the 2 modes thoroughly in preparation for the solo. Practice the modes in a variety of intervallic patterns to create melodic interest, and experiment with the more colourful notes of the scale such as the 9th and 11th.  As always, rhythm is primal, so try playing just a few notes and experimenting with different rhythmic ideas.

DIVISION 4+ (Mixed Instrumentation) – NATIONAL STAGE BAND AWARDS

Set Piece: A Little Loosener 
Composed & Arranged by:  Nick Mulder

Difficulty Level: Grade 2.5

A Little Loosener – PDF (download free sample)
A Little Loosener Audio Sample (listen to free sample)

PERFORMANCE NOTES:
“A Little Loosener” is a medium-up jazz waltz in a blues form with an interlude bridge. While the melody is relatively simple, the meter and tempo of the piece may not be familiar to bands at this level. The piece will work below MM 180, but directors should take care to ensure the tempo doesn’t go beyond this as the figures will feel rushed. While the piece is definitely in a swing feel, horn players should think about ‘straightening out’ or ‘broadening’ the 8th notes. It is critical for drummers to get this feel right, starting with the ride cymbal. There are many great examples to listen to; Windows by Chick Corea is a great starting point.

Some things to consider: -Keep backing figures behind the melody (letter A) and solos (letter B) light. Follow the marked dynamics but don’t be afraid to follow the contour of the line to give the music some light and shade. -For brass, the forte at letter C and letter F is full and strong but not so loud as to overpower the saxophones. Saxes should take care not to drag the 4/3 figure in these sections. -The clapping in the rhythm section from 8 bars before letter D probably won’t feel natural initially, but will settle over time. Count carefully, but more importantly play this section until you don’t need to count. It’s important for everyone to feel comfortable here or things may come unstuck! Again, follow the written dynamics but the overall effect is to build up to letter F where all the tension is released. -The section from letter G to the end is an extended coda. Rhythm sections should focus on the groove and making the 2 and 3 in the bar feel natural together. Horn players can focus on balance and blend, making sure that the melodies from trumpets/altos and trombones/low saxes come out with no rough edges. Pay particular attention to moving together rhythmically and dynamically.
The solo section uses only 2 chords to enable young improvisers to really get the required scales under their fingers. First choice scale for a minor 11 chord is the dorian mode (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7, 8) and I encourage soloists to learn the 2 modes thoroughly in preparation for the solo. Practice the modes in a variety of intervallic patterns to create melodic interest, and experiment with the more colourful notes of the scale such as the 9th and 11th.  As always, rhythm is primal, so try playing just a few notes and experimenting with different rhythmic ideas.

DIVISION 5 (Non Competitive) –  NATIONAL STAGE BAND AWARDS

Set Piece: Billy’s Bags
Composed & Arranged by:  Mat Jodrell
Difficulty Level: Grade 1.5

Billy’s Bag – PDF (download free sample)
Billys Bag Audio Sample (listen to free sample)

PERFORMANCE NOTES:
Billy’s Bags is a composition written in tribute to the great American composer, arranger and trumpeter Billy May. Billy May was a prolific arranger, most notably for singers such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Anita O’Day, Ella Fitzgerald to name but a few.  He released numerous albums under his own name, and also composed for film and television – examples being The Green Hornet (1966), The Mod Squad (1968), Batman (1967), and Naked City (1960). His writing is not only beautifully constructed and orchestrated, but often incorporates a lot of comedy and satire.  This piece, Billy’s Bags, attempts to do exactly this.

The rhythm section starts with an old school 2-beat bounce, and the composition features many breaks in the last 2 bars of each 8 bar section.  Pay particular attention to these breaks as it is very easy to speed up during these moments of silence. The saxes then enter in classic Billy May style, playing a unison line with large scoops.  Try to make the most out of these scoops as it adds to the comedy of the melody.  The brass then enter with very short and clipped background chords.

The bridge features the trombones sliding between chords – once again try to make the most out of these slides, accentuating each one as it adds to the humour (and the trombone section will love doing it!).  The melody is written for the piano and vibraphone (or could be played on any mallet percussion – xylophone/marimba).  Having someone play this mallet percussion part is quite important, as it really adds to the comedic nature of the piece.

It then heads to the saxophone melody again, this time finishing with a classic ascending line with the trumpets playing straight eighth notes against the swinging rhythm section.  This line is definitely slurred and smooth by the trumpets, a very distinctive Billy May sound.
Then comes a key change and trombone/saxophone shout chorus.  It is important to make the most of the trombone hit at the end of bar 38 as it kicks off the soloist (and adds to the comedy) along with a big bass drum kick.

After saxophone and trumpet solos we head into a Dixieland section.  Billy May often used differing styles in one piece, and was an excellent exponent of the Dixieland feel (his album SortaDixie in 1954 demonstrates this).  It is important for the Bass Trombone to really make the most of the slide into section G, making it brash and extroverted.  The trumpets take the lead in this section, so make sure they play out. We then have a trombone solo heading into a full band shout chorus (the climax).  This then finishes in a humorous way with a piano/vibraphone break.  Once again, the addition of the mallet percussion really brings out the humour here.

The last section brings back the original melody, closing out with the straight eighth trumpet ascending line and the final triplets to finish it off strongly.
I hope you enjoy this chart as much as I have enjoyed writing it!  Try to bring out the comedic value as much as possible, whilst still paying close attention to dynamics, a really swinging’ feel and tight ensemble playing.