My selections for the 2018 Massachusetts Music Educators Association Eastern District Junior Jazz Band are listed below, with links to recordings on the JWPepper site. The band was made up of students in grades 7 through 9. As I chose repertoire, I kept in mind that regional groups are comprised of all good players, but we would have limited rehearsal time. The level of these pieces worked well.
Given that the ratings of Easy to Medium-Easy, etc. can be misleading and inconsistent, I considered range and ensemble challenges. Most of the selections below are “medium-easy.” Lazy Day and Samba Norte are labeled “easy,” but Samba Norte should perhaps be labeled “medium-easy” and Lazy Day, while on the easier side, presents the challenge of playing a slow swing well.
- The Big Band Theory
by Larry Neeck
- Lazy Day
by Tim Fisher
- Samba Norte
by Dean Sorenson
arr. by Les Sabina
The above well-balanced set was my first choice of the three sets I submitted for consideration. It was approved. Below, I will list some other selections I considered.
Fred Sturm has a few really nice charts at the Grade 2 level. I would have been happy to include any of the following:
- Pitch Perfect: https://www.lorenz.com/instrumental/large-ensembles/perfect-pitch
- Zach Attach: https://www.lorenz.com/instrumental/large-ensembles/zach-attack-score
- Jump Down Turn Around – Set: https://kjos.com/index.php/jump-down-turn-around-set.html
- Nzembo Na Mvula Zamba (Song of the Rainforest): https://www.lorenz.com/instrumental/large-ensembles/nzembo-na-mvula-zamba
Another good straight-ahead swinger is:
- 88 Ave. B
by Dan Torosian
It would be very remiss of me if I did not acknowledge the assistance of my son’s middle school band director, Lisa Corveau, with whom I consulted for level-appropriate repertoire. Lisa is an excellent middle school jazz band director who gets fantastic results from her students in Mansfield, Connecticut. I am so happy that both my children have the opportunity to work with her, and I always enjoy visiting her band room as a guest clinician. Her bands sound better every time I hear them, and to her credit, I find them to be a receptive, responsive and malleable group of young musicians.