Bart Marantz NPR/KERA Jazz Education Interview
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"Just A Closer Walk"
Composed & Arranged By: Dean Sorenson
Instrumentation: Big Band
Publisher: KJOS Music Company / Signature Series
Grade: 3 Medium Swing = 76 & =180 $35.00
Each week as sit in church I ask myself how would the congregation act if the pieces we are singing were written for big band? Well, thanks to Dean Sorenson you can now take your band to a service and request time to perform “Just A closer Walk With Thee.” This traditional hymn often played at funerals in New Orleans around the turn of the century takes on a whole new look after a very somber and refined introduction.
Coming from the funeral and return to church became a joyful celebration of the loved one’s life on earth and entrance into Heaven, the hymn was performed with new life and in a jubilant, spirited manner. Dean Sorenson’s arrangement opens in the same sober feel like the beginning of the funeral march. Keep in mind the tempo at the beginning of this section so as not to play it too slow. The scoop marking at measure 11 is essential to the over all style of this piece from a New Orleans sense of character.
The celebrating starts at measure 18 with a well written bass figure that continues through the next statement of the melody. An excellent swinging sax soli is written before the chart modulates to a shout chorus. This is a great writing and will help high school and very good middle school big bands become even better. If there is a down side it’s that there is no “written” section for solos. The chart is begging for someone to blow the changes away just after the sax soli. This can still happen with the right director who is knowledgeable about inserting soloists into a chart. Either way though “Just A Closer Walk “ is a winner and deserves to be in your book all seven days of the week!
Top note for trumpet is written G above the staff.