The Senior Recital | Program Notes

The Senior Recital

Softly as in a Morning Sunrise arr. Nabil Ince
By Sigmund Romberg (1887-1951)

This song is the first of multiple songs in this program that follows the same historical pattern: originally in a musical, becomes common repertoire for big band orchestras in the swing era, becomes common repertoire for virtuoso jazz musicians in the bebop era, becomes apart of the massive Jazz lexicon known as “standards.” In part I of III examples that follow this model, Softly is originally from the musical New Moon (1928). The arrangement that will be presented tonight will be a bit different than the traditional way this song is played. Many recordings of this piece present the entire 16 measure AABA head (melody of the song) in a swing groove. However, tonight the band and I will implement a common technique within the tradition of jazz: construct a head that switches between a latin groove and a swing groove. This arrangement will be structured as follows, every A section will have a latin feel, while the B section will have a swing feel.

Solo Anchor: When I started studying jazz, songs that have such dramatic shifts in the groove like this helped me follow jazz musicians throughout their solos. It is my hope this has a similar effect for you, no matter how well versed you are in the jazz language. Listen for the groove switch that will occur over and over again during the solos.

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All the Things You Are
By Jerome Kern (1885-1945)

“All the Things You Are” is example II of III that followed the same path into the jazz standard repertoire. This song appeared in Jerome Kern’s last broadway musical, Very Warm for May (1939). The show received terrible ratings, but it also featured this song, this gem. This arrangement will feature two purposefully placed decisions: the introduction and the ending. The ending will feature rhythmic melodic hits that can be found in the Charlie “Bird” Parker (1920-1955) recording of this song. Typically, one would play these hits for both the introduction and the ending. However, tonight the introduction will feature a descending bassline, one that will bleed over into the beginning of the head.

Solo Anchor: This 32 measure head features 4 uniquely different 8 measure phrases. Of the 4 groups, 3 of them are very similar harmonically and melodically. The C section of this ABCD head structure is the one section that is the odd one out. I encourage the harmonic similarities between the A, B, and D phrases to be an anchor as you follow how each soloist will work their way through the form. It’ll get fun when Jim Crumble speaks, and the harmonies are stripped away).

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Desire
By Kamasi Washington (b. 1981)

This is a song found off of Washington’s work entitled Harmony of Difference. This is a beautiful 6 song project that features a handful of well written themes. This song “Desire” is the first and most prominent theme on the project, as it shows up in three of the six songs. The arrangement of the head is 14 measures. Harmonically speaking, the head can be thought of as 7 pairs of the same two chords. There is nothing uniquely different between Washington’s arrangement and the arrangement that will be presented tonight. In other words, all the creativity will be found within the solo section.

Solo Anchor: It will be the same two chords over and over again… can you tell?

Footprints
By Wayne Shorter (b. 1933) arr. Nabil Ince

“Footprints” was released by renowned saxophonist Wayne Shorter in 1966 on a record called Adam’s Apple. In my opinion, this song has an iconic bassline. This bassline is so memorable partly because during the 12 measure head, 8 of those measures will have the exact same melody. Not only that, but it’s the kind of melody you can whistle. The introduction will begin with just this bassline, which will hopefully allow a quick and easy recognition of that melody. Harmonically speaking, this is a fun tune that allows for a lot of exploration by each musician that will take a solo.

Solo Anchor: If I were to challenge one to clue into something during the solos, it would be how each soloist handles the 9th and 10th measures of the head structure. You’ll know when it’s happening because the harmonies will become very dissonant (aka really weird) for a little bit, and then the harmonies will quickly return to what can be described as this song’s “home base”.

Sidenote: Somewhere during this arrangement tonight, I will quote the Carmen melody.

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Body and Soul
By Johnny Green (1908-1989) arr. Nabil Ince

“Body and Soul” is the final example of a jazz standard that originally appeared in a musical. This song appeared in the Broadway revue, Three’s a Crowd, in the year 1930. This song received upstanding reviews, and “Body and Soul” was a standout song. This classic ballad is a love song that speaks of a lonely heart. Fun fact: this song was also the focus of my SIP, “‘Body and Soul’: How Arrangement Proves Itself Important in Songwriting.” In my study, I listened to many different recordings, analyzing the ways in which they were incredibly unique while at the same time being quite similar. The study oozes with the important concept of diversity within unity. This song is beautifully written, featuring a 32 measure head in an AABA format. The arrangement I will present tonight is a fusion of all the different arrangements I have studied, with a little personal touch.

Solo Anchor: This song is in the AABA format. The B section is dramatically different than the other sections, even more so than the shifts that have been heard in the first three songs presented in the program. Listen out for that dramatic change during the solo. I will only play through this form once during my solo, so the dramatic shift will only come around once. Because of this, the moment will be quite big and obvious.

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Donna Lee
By Miles Davis (1926-1991) arr. Nabil Ince

Even though Miles Davis composed this song, many people refer to this tune as a Bird Tune. However, when Gil Evans reached out to Parker for permission to arrange the song, Parker referred him to Miles Davis. This song is a contrafact, based off of “Indiana” by James Hanley (1892-1942). Contrafacts are songs that take the chords of an already existent song, and place a new melody over top of it. In my opinion, the chords in this song are gorgeous. I personally love the way the harmonies progress over time; however, typical recordings of this piece are fast. I felt as though they were so fast, I could not appreciate the harmonic beauty this song offers. Because of this, the arrangement tonight will feature a slowed down section that will be hinted at in the introduction and will be fully explored during the ending of the song.

Solo Anchor: Because this is a contrafact, if you know the song “Indiana,” you could just sing it over and over again in your head and always know where the soloist is. The head of this song is 32 measures long, however halfway through the head, the melody and chords repeat the first four measures of the song. This means measures 1-4 sound identical to measures 17-20. During the head see if you can hear that moment in the melody. Then during the solo, see if you can hear that moment, and how the soloist works their way into and out of them. This harmonic movement will be more pronounced at the ending, when the groove will jolt into a 6/8 groove, leaving the typical fast 4/4 groove.