Bart Marantz NPR/KERA Jazz Education Interview
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"In A Mellow Tone"
By: Duke Ellington
Arranged By: Michael Sweeney
Instrumentation: Big Band
Publisher: Hal Leonard.
Grade 2 1/2 Swing Tempo = 116 $35.00
The style of this Duke Ellington classic is a relaxed moderate swing and the tempo should not feel rushed or frantic. The rhythm section should focus on maintaining a steady and consistent pulse. Much of the melodic structure of this arrangement is in a “call and response” format. Students need to be encouraged to listen to how their individual parts fit in with the arrangement as a whole. Even the solo sections at measures 34 and 50 are designed as dialogues or musical conversations between the soloist and the background accompaniment figures.
Soloist can either play the written sample solos or experiment with their own improvisation. A good way to start improvising is to use the main melody as a guide and alter it slightly, either rhythmically or by adding a few notes. If desired, these sections can also be used as soli section features rather than solos.
Make sure your players thoroughly understand the concept of “swing 8th notes” before playing this arrangement. To achieve a good jazz feel it is very important to use a legato style of tonguing (“du”) on most notes. Eighth notes in this style should be smooth and connected, and not choppy sounding. Staccato notes and “roof top” accents should be articulated as “dot.”
Throughout this arrangement, the left hand in the piano part duplicates the bass part and should be played lightly or not at all if a bass player is present.
Trying these suggestions with this quality tune and arrangement you and your band will be satisfied with the results, I’m sure.
Top note for trumpet is E in the staff