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.