Take it Easy, Band

The following is a recent post from The Jazz Chief Blog, the personal blog of Chief Warrant Officer William McCulloch, Director of the Jazz Ambassadors of the U.S. Army Field Band. Blog topics include the inner dynamics of the “Big Band,” his approach to rehearsal and performance with a professional ensemble and his reflections on touring over 100 days per year. Follow Chief McCulloch on Twitter @JazzChief and find him at facebook.com/jazzchief

The task: Write and record an Easy, Grade 3 Big Band chart for middle school jazz bands and make it available as a FREE download.

I have the greatest big band in the country at my disposal. This should be easy, right? Not as easy as one might think.

Interpreting the written note is a significant part of how a professional big band performs a piece of music. Playing each note exactly as written without any inferred embellishment is actually a lot harder than it appears. This was the challenge for the Jazz Ambassadors of The United States Army Field Band on September 5th, 2012 as we recorded the newest addition to our library of FREE, downloadable big band charts – Perspectives.

Staff Sergeant Paul White, the band’s arranger, composed “See if I Don’t” specifically to suit the needs of middle school band directors who need an easy chart to teach the fundamentals of jazz. White’s challenge? Make it easy, but make it sound “cool”. Always up for a challenge, he did just that.

Expect to see “See if I Don’t” up on our downloads page within the next month. In the meanwhile, check out the other charts that are available, download them, play them with your bands, and enjoy a photo from our recording session. (Left) Staff Sergeant Dustin Mollick lays down the low notes on the other side of the band, “outside the box.”

About the Author:

Chief Warrant Officer William S. McCulloch enlisted in the Army in 1991 as a percussionist and was appointed as an Army Bandmaster in 2000. During his twenty-year career, he has served tours with the 25th Infantry Division Band, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; the 98th Army Band, Fort Rucker, Alabama; the 101st Airborne Division Band, Fort Campbell, Kentucky; the 9th Army Band, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; the 10th Mountain Division Band at Fort Drum, New York; and the 392nd Army Band, Fort Lee, Virginia. He deployed with the 10th Mountain Division Band from 2008 to 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

(Used with Permission of Author)