Bart Marantz NPR/KERA Jazz Education Interview
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Arranged: Gordon Goodwin
Instrumentation: Big Band
Publisher: Alfred / Belwin Jazz
Grade 5 Swing (Starts Slowly) q = 120 $65.00
“Yo Tannenbaum” is a new arrangement of one of the great all time holiday tunes, known by “Oh Tannenbaum.” This arrangement goes through a variety of tempos and moods, all of which require a slightly different approach. It’s written for an experienced high school or college big band with a solid lead trumpet player.
When your band is playing the open chorale section, remind your players that blending and consistent attention to pitch is essential to pulling this off. You might make mention that there is no vibrato in this section at all. The opening attitude should be reverent and very quiet.
Just a short time later though the band is swinging with a Count Basie groove and everything changes. The band doesn’t get very loud yet, but it should definitely swing with a nice laid-back attitude. Again, in just a short time the chart changes gears and goes into a twisting bebop statement of the theme at a tempo that is moving forward. Because of these “gradual” tempo changes the band will have to rehearse this section to perfection until it becomes second nature to all the musicians. It has to sound spontaneous, but will take a lot of rehearsal and perhaps sectional time to achieve full effect.
Not far into this chart the rhythm section drops out and it’s up to the saxes to keep the time and tempo steady. Blow through each phrase and keep the rhythmic pulse moving. The same concept applies to the brass just a few measures ahead of the saxes.
There is a wonderful shout chorus, but it is tricky! Try to keep the ensemble tight and mobile as the effect of this section is based on not how loud the band plays, but rather how tight and connected the ensemble remains.
The last statement is just big band swing at a medium tempo, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Top note for trumpet is written F above high C