There are many different ways in which a big band chart can be challenging. The most obvious of these is in the number of notes and the speed at which they must be played, another is the complexity of the syncopation. All of these can be readily seen with a quick glance at the score – a lot of notes, some tricky phrases, a high number of beats per minute and you have a ‘hard’ chart, particularly for a school band. Of course these can all be met with lots of practice – play it enough times and you get to know it, problem solved.
There are often more subtle challenges that are not so readily seen on the page, chief amongst these is getting the right ‘groove’, also getting a beautiful sound and balance. Having been an adjudicator in Div. 1 for many years now, I’ve seen that the set pieces largely rely on getting to ‘know’ the chart as the main challenge, this year we have a chart that will expand the challenge into areas that’ll test not only how much practice you’ve done – but where you are up to as jazz musicians. We are always saying that the standard is so high with the wonderful bands you bring to Generations, this chart will really bring that to light in some different ways.
Firstly it’s harmonically quite advanced and has some very hip voicings. Have a look at half way through letter H – here the entire sax section has to respond to the trumpet solo but with their own note choice. This will call on not just your reading and dexterity but your musicianship – you’ll need to use your ‘jazz’ sense to pull this off really well. It’s also going to be great fun.
Of course there are still the traditional professional big band arrangement elements to deal with – a smoking sax section soli, some high lead trumpet notes, improvised solos and sophisticated dynamics. There are also plenty of notes and the tempo is bright J
With a quick glance Lucidity you may not be aware of all the challenges – but only a true Div. 1 band will play this well and Mark and I can’t wait to hear you nail it.
On Mark Nightingale:
Finding the right person to write the Generations Div. 1 set piece is no easy task. There are plenty of good arrangers out there but the chart needs to be original, challenging and fun to play – it also needs to be something that isn’t played by all the bands already. Apart from being my favourite jazz trombonist, Mark Nightingale is a remarkable composer and arranger. He has played with Urbie Green, Carl Fontana, Clark Terry, Slide Hampton and recorded with Sting. He also conducts the BBC Big Band and I was delighted that he agreed to write the chart for the Div. 1 chart for this year. He will also be joining us from London and adjudicating!
I’m not the only one who’s a fan – here are a couple of quotes from others about Mark: –
Style and sparkling invention delivered with an extraordinary degree of technical accomplishment.
Jazz International Magazine
This guy should be paid by the note!
Cream rises to the top and the odd person is going to become internationally known as a great jazz player – and one of the finest jazz players in the world right now is Mark Nightingale.