Sordid Sort of Fellow

Winnipeg-based trumpeter, Frank Burke

Sordid Sort of Fellow will be the second track on my coming album, “Open Borders.” The song includes solos by Josh Evans (trumpet), Sara Jacovino (trombone), Henry Lugo (string bass) and me (piano). I am saving the recording until it’s release in October, but here is a live version to whet your whistle: When commissioned to write a piece for the 2009 Central Massachusetts District Jazz Band, I knew the big band would include many…

Terry Deane – the Enigma

Terry Deane

I keep thinking, if I wait a bit longer, Sean Drabbit will post a follow-up Facebook status saying “Sorry for the distasteful joke, Terry is alive and well.  Ha, Ha. We gotcha!” But then I remind myself we aren’t kids any more, we know the pain of death all too well, and our days of childish trickery are behind us. Terry is gone. Far too often in recent memory I have learned of the passing…

Big Band Arranging for Jerrold Dubyk

Augmented Blues Example

Having just completed a big band commission, I thought I’d take a minute to reflect and outline my process and the arranging methods employed, before my recollections are gone forever. With some previous charts, I tried blogging about my compositional process as I worked (a play-by-play account of sorts), but I swore off this practice, because I found myself thinking too much about what I would post, rather than focusing exclusively on the music. It…

Jazz Improv – Where To Begin?

Where does one begin when teaching jazz improv? This question, and the enormity of the topic, can be almost paralyzing. We don’t want to overwhelm or turn off a young student by introducing too much theory too soon, but at the same time, they need tangible materials with which to experiment and manipulate. Personally, I was torn between starting my 10-year-old son with either the blues, or Miles Davis’ “So What.” I could formulate arguments…

Fear of Improvising

This is the start of a new blogging series where I will be sharing methods for introducing jazz improvisation to middle school band kids. Although I’ve taught jazz improv for many years at the university level, teaching it to kids is somewhat new to me. Also new to me is the trumpet, which I have started to learn with my 10-year-old son, Logan. We’ve been practicing and taking weekly lessons together since this past summer.…