I am often asked to provide a list of recommended jazz arranging text books. Here are some of the better ones in my bookshelf:
I use this book every year in my fall semester small group arranging course. I think it is fantastic! Throughout the book Dobbins uses just two tunes, and arranges them in multiple ways for rhythm section plus 1, 2, 3 and 4 horns.
Every student big band arranger should have a copy of this book. The analysis is some of the best I have ever seen. His “dynamic contour charts” provide a unique and valuable way to premeditate the form of an arrangement. Section and ensemble voicings are clearly spelled out, and it includes very insightful interviews with 3 of the greatest arrangers of all time.
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Introduction to Big Band Arranging
by Paris Rutherford
Paris Rutherford retired in 2009 from teaching jazz arranging at the University of North Texas. Given this university’s long tradition of producing outstanding professional arrangers, I was curious as to read the jazz arranging text books he used for 25+ years. I was able to order these directly from the UNT bookstore. As expected, they are well written, thorough and filled with great information. Hal Leonard Corporation now publishes “Basics in Jazz Arranging.” A chapter-by-chapter summary can be found on Paris Rutherford’s website.
I received this book from my mother-in-law last Christmas. (It sure beat getting an ugly sweater!) I am working through it gradually, but it may be the hands down winner as the most comprehensive jazz arranging resource on the market today.